by Ricardo Brito
BRASILIA (Reuters) – In a sign of affection for senators, the attorney general of the Republic, Augusto Aras, this Tuesday rejected criminalizing the actions of politicians and denied having acted in a silent manner in relation to the Jair Bolsonaro government and in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
During a hearing at the Senate Committee on Constitution and Justice (CCJ) to be reappointed to the position for another two years, Aras said he had sought to act during his first term in a balanced, impartial, transparent manner and without wanting to enter the sphere of other Powers.
“I fulfilled, in this aspect in particular, my duty committed here in the last hearing: not to allow the Public Ministry to want to substitute itself for the Legislative Power or the Judiciary Power or the Executive Power”, he affirmed.
“What there is is constant care not to criminalize politics, not to judicialize politics, not to harm the development of companies, while maintaining supervision through its competent bodies,” he said.
“It is the care to guarantee to each citizen – each senator is a citizen, each minister of the Supreme is a citizen, the attorney general is a citizen – their fundamental rights and guarantees so that convictions do not occur so irresponsibly that someone can , supposedly innocent, spend years in jail, only to be exonerated from any responsibility at a later date”, he highlighted.
The target of criticism for allegedly failing to investigate Bolsonaro’s actions in relation to the pandemic, for the attacks on the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and the country’s voting system, the attorney general said that he worked in the last two years in charge of the position. discreetly, based on dialogue. And he said that his performance cannot be measured by “ideological proselytism, spectacular police operations or clashes in the political arena.”
The nomination made by Bolsonaro for a new term of Aras, again outside the triple list made by the category itself, should soon be appreciated by the CCJ in secret ballot and, later, by the plenary of the House. The expectation is that Aras’ name will be approved.
When rebutting critics’ accusations of malfeasance, he made a point of trying to demonstrate in his speech an independent performance. “It is not, as said, an attorney general or a public prosecutor loyal to the State, to any government. This is a Public Ministry loyal to the Constitution”, he said.
Aras also cited a series of initiatives taken before the Supreme Court against Bolsonaro and his government. He also said that, although he has shown that he has taken positions against the government, he is not an “opposition attorney”.
The attorney general criticized Operation Lava Jato, considering that there was a “personalization” of the task force model, which led to a series of irregularities. He made an emphatic defense of the new model of investigation groups in the Federal Public Ministry, the so-called Gaecos, which, in his opinion, have greater transparency and control.
During his speech, the attorney general quoted the weekend’s decision in which one more Lava Jato conviction against former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was overturned.
“This attorney has the duty to manifest himself in the universe of legal discourse, primarily, in the records, without spectacle, without scandal, so as not to tarnish, not to prejudice, not to cause the injuries that are discrediting the convictions that occurred in the last six years, eight years. At the end of the week, we had another sentence overturned. The annulments of these sentences are either due to legal defects, or due to defects in procedural instructions,” he said.
The Lava Jato task forces — all of which are now extinct during Aras’ administration — have been the main targets of concern for the Brazilian political class in recent years, even causing a redrawing of the map of the main Brazilian leaders. In the Senate, there are senators who are still responding to investigations from the Lava Jato.
Amidst criticisms of omission, Aras stated that there was no lack of PGR action in the 18 months of combating the pandemic, citing a series of information and initiatives taken during the period.
The attorney general said he reaffirmed his commitment to comply with the Constitution and will do so when he receives the final report on the work of Covid’s CPI.
The inquiry commission, with a majority opposition to the government, can blame Bolsonaro for failures in the fight against the pandemic. It will be up to the attorney general –after receiving the report– to decide whether to use these findings to file lawsuits.
“Be sure that the attorney general of the Republic, whoever he may be, at the time of receiving this report, will already have a team studying all the elements that were collected. And, thus, it will be much easier, in 30 days, to examine the thousands and thousands and thousands of pages that now make up the CPI”, he said.
The target of repeated criticism by Bolsonaro, the current voting system using electronic voting machines was defended by Aras. He mentioned that the deputy electoral attorney general has already expressed his opinion on the “suitability” of the system used.
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