Lula to take cabinet position in Brazil

Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is likely to take position in Dilma Rousseff’s cabinet while facing corruption charges

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves to supporters from the balcony of his apartment in Sao Bernardo do Campo, some 25 km from Sao Paulo in Brazil, on March 13, 2016.

Updated Mar 16, 2016

Brazil's former President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will likely accept a position in President Dilma Rousseff's cabinet, local media said on Monday.

Lula will travel to capital Brasilia to discuss with Rousseff his new ministerial position, which will give him legal protection from Federal Judge Sergio Moro, who oversees a corruption investigation into state-run oil company Petrobras. Only the Supreme Court will have the legal right to judge Lula if he takes a cabinet position.

The former president has recently been charged with corruption separate from the Petrobras scandal.

State prosecutors in Sao Paulo filed for his arrest last week after charging him with money laundering for concealing ownership of a luxury seaside apartment, which he denies.

A woman praised the chief investigating judge in the Petrobras scandal, Sergio Moro, as "Our national pride" during a protest at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on March 13, 2016

The Sao Paulo state court system said in a statement on Monday that it had asked Judge Sergio Moro to take over the case.

Sao Paulo Judge Maria Priscilla Oliveira said in a decision that the state prosecutors' case had an "undeniable connection" to the Petrobras investigation, in which dozens of engineering executives schemed to siphon money from Petrobras to bribe public officials.

Moro has already allowed federal police to detain Lula for questioning after prosecutors said that he may have benefited from the scheme, an event that spurred isolated clashes between Lula's supporters and critics.

Lula has rejected ownership of the apartment and denied any wrongdoing, calling the investigation political in nature.

Demonstrators against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff are seen with inflatable dolls known as "Pixuleco" of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Rousseff during a protest, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 13, 2016.

He is the founder of the ruling Workers' Party and was president between 2003-2010 and remains the most important figure on Brazil's left with ambitions to return to power in the 2018 elections.

The investigation of Lula has bolstered calls for Rousseff to step down or be impeached. Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters flooded the streets on Sunday, many carrying signs in support of Judge Moro.

A day after the protests, Rousseff appointed a new justice minister - the country's third in only two weeks.

Eugenio Aragao took over the job after Wellington Cesar. Cesar resigned due to a Supreme Court ruling that made him choose between the cabinet position and his 25-year career as a prosecutor.

Brazil's justice minister - also the head of the country's federal police - is a key factor in the Petrobras probe, alongside federal prosecutors and Moro.

TRTWorld and agencies