Brazil prosecutor charges 37 in 2005 scandal

AP News
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Posted: Jul 08, 2011 3:41 PM
Brazil prosecutor charges 37 in 2005 scandal

Brazil's Supreme Court said Friday a prosecutor has filed charges against a former top presidential aide and 36 other people in a 2005 cash-for-votes scandal that rocked the government of then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The Court said on its website that Jose Dirceu, Silva's former chief of staff, was accused of orchestrating the scheme in which opposition lawmakers received monthly stipends of as much as $13,000 for support in Congress.

Dirceu and other top members of the ruling Workers' Party were forced out of the government as a result of the "mensalao" or "big allowance" scandal.

Federal prosecutor Roberto Gurgel has also charged several other former legislators, Cabinet ministers and officials of the Workers' Party.

Gurgel said in the charges he filed that "a criminal plan was elaborated to buy votes in Congress. It was the most serious aggression committed against democratic values."

Silva, who was never implicated in the scandal, came out of it unscathed and ended his presidency with high popularity ratings.

The charges filed by Gurgel are not expected to affect the government of Silva's hand-picked successor Dilma Rousseff.

The defendants, who deny involvement in the mensalao, have 30 days to deliver their written defense to the court, which will rule on the matter at a yet-to-be-determined date.