Brazilian judge Álvaro Ciarlini from a Federal District Public Finance court in Brazilian capital Brasília has ordered assemblyman Leonardo “socks” Prudente (no party) to step down immediately from his position as president of the local Legislative Assembly based on accusations in a class action suit.
Disobedience will cost Prudente 100,000 reais (US$ 56,000) per day.
Prudente is accused of receiving money in a bribery scheme that was run by the governor, José Roberto Arruda (no party). In a film, Prudente is shown receiving wads of money and putting them in his pockets and his socks.
In his sentence, judge Ciarlini, (2ª Vara de Fazenda Pública do Distrito Federal), pointed out there was “strong evidence that grave misdeeds were committed.”
The scandal became public with the showing of videotapes of Prudente and other politicians (including the governor) handling large amounts of money in late November. Shortly after that, Prudente went on a leave of absence and disappeared.
But at the beginning of the year he reappeared insisting that he would return to his position at the head of the assembly. On January 11, when the assembly went back to work after a holiday recess, he once again took over as president.
Leaders of Brazil’s largest worker’s union, the CUT, say they will turn up the pressure on the governor, José Roberto Arruda, and the legislators involved in a recently uncovered corruption scandal here in the country’s capital.
A Federal Police investigation, Operation Pandora’s Box, found that money paid by contractors was being funneled into the pockets and socks of members of the local legislative assembly.
CUT says it will protest for the removal of Arruda and in favor of a thorough investigation of the scandal in the assembly. The problem with that idea is that Arruda has an overwhelming majority in the assembly, which under present legislation must approve any legal action against the governor or its members.
“We have a number of ideas. We can set up a giant TV screen in the central bus station and show the videotapes of the corruption (films showing politicians receiving money), we can make the scandal the theme of a Carnaval parade and we can protest daily.
At the moment we are working out the details on how we will coordinate the protests throughout the Federal District,” explained the secretary general of the CUT-DF, Cicero Rola.
With regard to the insistence by legislators to maintain former members of the Arruda administration managing the corruption investigation, in spite of demonstrations and protests, Rola says he believes the assembly is feeling pressure. He said the use of police force against demonstrators is a clear sign that public pressure is making the deputies uncomfortable.
“Along with the protests we are pursuing other avenues of action. We have lawsuits demanding the suspension of Leonardo Prudente, the president of the Legislative Assembly. One of those lawsuits was successful: a judge has ordered Prudente to step down from the presidency of the assembly.
At the same time government attorneys are trying to get eight other deputies accused of being involved in the corruption scandal suspended,” said Rola.
He added that his people intended to hold peaceful protests and respect any demonstrators in favor of Arruda. “We do not intend to have any fights with Arruda’s people,” he declared.