Friends Shelve Corruption Charges Against Brazilian Senate President

Brazil's Senate president José Sarney Protected by a network of old political friends Brazilian Senate president José Sarney managed to slip away from a battery of corruption, nepotism and secret-resolution charges against him, following the Ethics Council decision to shelve the case with no debate.

"I don't fear public opinion. I adore making decisions on my own," said Senator Paulo Duque the Senate Ethics Council president, who belongs to the same party as Sarney, Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, PMDB.

Since Duque did not convene the Ethics Council, the opposition will attempt to appeal the decision. Sarney is at the heart of long standing investigation which has virtually paralyzed the Brazilian congress activities for months, mainly because of claims of misuse of public funds.

Sarney is accused among other things of employing relatives in the Senate; participating in hundreds of secret decisions and a donation from the country's oil and gas corporation Petrobras allegedly ended benefiting companies belonging to his relatives.

However dozens of other Senators and even Deputies face similar claims.

"The Senate is in a state of institutional calamity, terribly serious reciprocal accusations against party leaders have become an intolerable framework which puts democracy at risk," said the president of Brazil's Solicitors College Cezar Britto in an official statement released Saturday.

The head of Brazilian attorneys stated that making the full house of 81 senators resign was the "ideal solution."

Former president Sarney, 1985/1990, is one of the main leaders of the center road party PMDB which is also a crucial ally of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's ruling coalition.

Lula has repeatedly come out in defense of Sarney but not the ruling Workers Party that openly asked for his ousting.

Last Wednesday in a speech before the full house Sarney said he was innocent of all charges and insisted he would remain in the post.

That same day Senator Demóstenes Torres from the conservative opposition said that "we (Senators) are a gang of crooks" with spurious interests, that has lost all credibility before public opinion following months of claims of corruption that extended to the entire house.



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