Ex-Brazilian president absolved in corruption case

AP News
Posted: Apr 25, 2014 5:45 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's Supreme Court has absolved former President Fernando Collor de Mello in a corruption case that was among scandals that led to his impeachment more than 20 years ago.

In a decision posted on its website Friday, the court cited a lack of evidence for the allegation that Collor de Mello, now a senator, was part of a scheme to embezzle public funds using an advertising agency during his 1990-92 presidency.

"The Supreme Court deemed it inadmissible to carry on the penal action against the former president and current senator ... for his alleged involvement in crimes including ideological falsity, passive corruption and embezzlement," the decision said.

Deputy Attorney General Ela Wiecko had defended the case against Collor de Mello, saying the then-president was fully aware of the criminal acts being committed by people close to him.

In the decision, Justice Carmen Lucia rejected that argument, finding the attorney general's office lacked enough evidence to confirm that Collor de Mello knew about fraudulent contracts with the advertising agency.

Collor de Mello, who was the first president directly elected by voters after Brazil's military rule, tried to resign the office in 1992 to avoid an impeachment trial. But the Senate tried him anyway and barred him from holding public office for eight years. The Supreme Court at the time rejected his appeal seeking to block the Senate proceeding.

David Fleischer, a political scientist at Brasilia University, said Collor de Mello has been absolved in all the criminal proceedings that arose from the scandals mostly because the time limit had expired.

Collor de Mello was elected a senator in 2006.