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Brazzil - Law - May 2004
 

Brazil's Supreme Justice: 'NYT's Rohter Stays'

Workers' Party Senator Cristovam Buarque, Lula's old friend and
his Education Minister until recently, applauded the measure taken
by the Supreme: "This decision corrects a government mistake,"
he said. A petition in the Supreme Justice argues that Rohter
cannot be expelled since he has Brazilian wife and children.

Émerson Luiz


Brazzil

Picture New York Times reporter Larry Rohter, who incurred the ire of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva after having written about the President's habit of drinking doesn't have to pack his bag and leave Brazil anymore. Brazil's Supreme Justice, the Superior Tribunal de Justiça (STJ), the second highest court in the land, revoked Lula's order to expel the Times reporter.

Minister Peçanha Martins of the Supreme Court took the decision in response to a habeas corpus petition that had been filed by Senator Sérgio Cabral.from the PMDB party on behalf of Larry Rohter.

Cabral in his petition argued that the action by the Justice Ministry against Rohter violates the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of press. "The act is entirely illegal, violating several fundamental rights and privileges of the individual, which are guaranteed by the Constitution."

Other habeas corpus petitions were also filed on behalf of the journalist. One of them by attorney André Luiz Eiró do Nascimento, who according to the STJ, was not hired by Rohter.

Nascimento contends that only the President himself and not the Justice Ministry has the right to suspend a temporary visa granted to a foreigner. To cancel the visa the President would have to sign an expulsion decree, which could only occur after due legal process. Besides, Nascimento says. the journalist cannot be expelled since he has Brazilian wife and children.

Workers' Party Senator, Cristovam Buarque, Lula's old friend and his Education Minister until recently, applauded the measure taken by the Supreme:

"This decision corrects a government mistake," he said. "We erred from the beginning. The visa suspension wasn't more than an authoritarian gesture. The Supreme's decision might be bad for the government, but it is good for democracy."

In the morning, in Brasília, President Lula had met a group of Congressmen led by former President and senator José Sarney, who wanted to convince him to revoke the expulsion order against Mr. Rohter. Lula seemed unbending and reiterated that he would not back down from the decision to revoke the temporary visa of New York Times reporter.

The decision to revoke Rohter's temporary visa was taken by Brazil's Justice Ministry on May 10. The ruling by Supreme Justice Peçanha Martin will be the law until the other ministers of the Supreme give their opinion on the habeas corpus request.

The American journalist would have eight days to leave Brazil after having received the notification of this expulsion. Rohter, however, is out of the country at the moment.



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