It’s been 30 years since film director Jonathan Demme stunned the world with trhiller The Silence of the Lambs (in the original, The Silence of the Lambs). The well-constructed plot in which a young FBI agent (played by Jodie Foster) turns to a convicted cannibal (played by Anthony Hopkins) to find a serial killer won the top five Oscar categories: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay (adapted). At a modest cost of $19 million, the production earned more than $250 million at the box office in the year of release alone. The title in Portuguese became a kind of catchphrase with a moral connotation. An aphorism analogous to the catchphrase “whoever is silent consents”, but on the contrary, as if the innocent were not given the right to speak.
In Brazil in 2021, the search for evidence that incriminates criminals in the context of the pandemic is not led by the FBI and, as far as is known, there is not a cannibal in the plot, but a genocide. What is not lacking, however, is the silence on the part of the deponents summoned by the CPI of Covid. Many go to court not to answer the senators’ questions. That’s what Emanuela Medrades, director of Need Medicines, the company responsible for the sale of the Indian vaccine Covaxin to the Ministry of Health, did. The negotiation is surrounded by suspicion. So it would be up to the director to clarify what actually happened. But she got a habeas corpus for not responding to inquiries that could incriminate her in her testimony on Tuesday (13). The guarantee of silence was signed by none other than the president of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Minister Luiz Fux.
LOSS OF TIME AND MONEY
Medrades’ muteness not only angered senators. He led the CPI to appeal to the same minister Fux with a request for an embargo that, in practice, could annul what he himself had guaranteed to the deponent – and to whoever else intends to remain silent in future hearings. It is astonishing that, in a country where the speed of justice is not a reason for celebration, the president of our High Court has a free agenda to urgently dispatch a habeas corpus that prevents the CPI from doing its work and, in then an embargo that supports the opposite. Although the acceptance of the demands has not run over other processes that swell in the STF, it was a tremendous waste of time and public resources. A day of CPI was lost for nothing. And even though Fux’s second decision, as of now, increases the senators’ investigative powers, it may have come late.
The parliamentary recess started on Saturday (17) will not suspend the work of the CPI, which is now dedicated to analyzing documents and already extends its tentacles abroad. The risk of the CPI being emptied due to the recess, however, is great. It may lose the support it gained from public opinion in recent months, when it became an almost mandatory program for Brazilians. This enthusiasm for the commission can be a flash in the pan. With arrest warrants annulled (without major harm to those who defy senators) and habeas corpus that silence deponents, the CPI is unable to produce consistent evidence.
The hope is that investigations will proceed from documents, whether printed contracts, emails or cell phone messages. Depending on the deponents’ will and legal guarantees so that they do not incriminate themselves, the CPI will be remembered in the future as a great waste rather than an investigation that proved the occurrence of crimes of malfeasance, embezzlement of public resources and corruption.
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