Bolsonaro gives top justice role to judge who jailed his rival Lula, sparking outrage
A Brazilian anti-corruption judge who helped imprison president-elect Jair Bolsonaro's main political rival has been appointed to lead the country’s justice ministry, in a highly controversial political move.
Bolsonaro announced on Thursday that Sergio Moro would take on the powerful role of justice and security minister when he takes office in January. Moro was the judge responsible for jailing former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who, polls showed, would have easily beaten Bolsonaro had he been allowed to run again.
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Tweeting about the appointment, Bolsonaro said his government would be guided by Moro’s “anti-corruption and anti-organized crime agenda” as well as his “respect for the constitution” and rule of law.
O juiz federal Sérgio Moro aceitou nosso convite para o Ministério da Justiça e Segurança Pública. Sua agenda anti-corrupção, anti-crime organizado, bem como respeito à Constituição e às leis será o nosso norte!— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) November 1, 2018
The move was immediately condemned by opposition figures in Brazil, with the president of Lula's Workers' party, Gleisi Hoffmann, calling it the "fraud of the century" and saying that the former president was “unfairly convicted” and prevented from running in the election.
Fraud of the century! Judge Sergio Moro will be Minister of Justice in Jair Bolsonaro's Government, who has only got elected because Lula was unfairly convicted and prevented from participating in the elections ... by judge Sergio Moro. Helped to elect, helping to govern...— Gleisi Lula Hoffmann (@gleisi) November 1, 2018
Explaining why he accepted the position, Moro said that the prospect of “implementing strong policies against corruption and organized crime, while respecting the constitution, the law and rights, lead me to this decision.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, balked at the decision on Twitter, suggesting that Lula's conviction was "highly dubious" and that the appointment to justice minister was Moro's "reward" for putting Bolsonaro's rival in prison. Journalist Alex Cuadros called the move “a nail in the coffin of Brazil’s anti-corruption movement”.
To recap:* All polls throughout 2018 show Lula would easily win the presidency* Judge Moro rushes to convict Lula on dubious charges, preventing him from running* Bolsonaro wins with Lula in jail* Moro to get high, powerful position in Bolsonaro's government#Justicehttps://t.co/0xx9lUhOt5— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) November 1, 2018
The judge who imprisoned Lula—Bolsonaro’s political nemesis—has just accepted a job in Bolsonaro’s administration. This is not just a bad look. This is a nail in the coffin of Brazil’s anti-corruption movement: https://t.co/NyV4aYBjeu— Alex Cuadros (@alexcuadros) November 1, 2018
Moro had won a cult-like following in Brazil for his anti-corruption probes that landed a number of businessmen and politicians in prison, but Lula’s supporters had argued that the probe against the former president was politically-motivated, claims which will have added weight after Moro’s new appointment.
"The right wing has always used corruption to attack the left. This happened with the fascists and Nazis. This happened when [President] Getúlio Vargas killed himself in Brazil, and that's why [President Juan] Peron fled Argentina. Corruption charges are an instrument in the moral and ethical fight against opponents," da Silva said in an interview to RT Spanish show hosted by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa.
Many on Twitter also pointed to the fact that there had been less international and media condemnation directed at Bolsonaro for the move than there might have been if it had happened elsewhere.
Not only don't they care but it also won't end up mattering, because there's nothing anyone can do to stop it.— Point Bleak (@pointblaek) November 1, 2018
I don't think it will matter much to the rest of the world. Seriously, we have Donald Trump as president of the US.— Eva Golinger (@evagolinger) November 1, 2018
Bolsonaro, who has been dubbed the 'Tropical Trump' due to his controversial comments on LGBT people, women and migrants, won a commanding victory last week in a presidential election run-off, beating Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party.