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1 Nov, 2018 21:39

Bolsonaro gives top justice role to judge who jailed his rival Lula, sparking outrage

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.

READ MORE: Is Brazil's Bolsonaro a Pinochet or a populist? – George Galloway

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.