BRASILIA – High-ranking judges used Thursday’s ceremony marking the start of Brazil’s 2018 judicial term to denounce what they see as politically motivated criticism of court rulings.
“One can favor a verdict or not and one can appeal a verdict,” but contempt of court and aggression toward the judiciary are “unacceptable,” said the chief justice of the federal Supreme Court, Carmen Lucia Antunes.
Among those present for the occasion were President Michel Temer, Senate head Eunicio Oliveira and House Speaker Rodrigo Maia – all accused of corruption – and each a vocal critic of judicial “excesses” in the course of investigations spurred by a string of major scandals that have rocked Brazilian politics.
Yet, neither Temer nor his congressional allies have suffered any actual consequences, while center-left former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who remains Brazil’s most popular politician seven years after leaving office, is facing a 12-year prison sentence for alleged graft.
Last week, an appellate court upheld Lula’s original conviction and added three years to the sentence even though the case against him is based almost entirely on plea-bargained testimony from people already convicted of corruption offenses.
Lula is pursuing additional appeals, but he and his supporters fear that federal prosecutors will try to have him jailed immediately to derail his plans to run for president in this year’s election.