Ophir Cavalcante, president of Brazil’s National Bar Association (OAB), has sent the government’s chief prosecutor, Roberto Gurgel, a demand for the immediate removal or preventive prison of the governor of the Federal District, José Roberto Arruda, who is believed to be the head of an alleged corruption scheme.
According to Cavalcante, the presence of Arruda in the governor’s seat will be detrimental to any investigation.
Cavalcante goes on to say that the governor is maneuvering to delay impeachment motions in the Legislative Assembly and adds that there is “unequivocal” evidence that the governor attempted to bribe a journalist who will testify in the case.
“There is clear evidence of attempts by the governor to obstruct justice and influence witnesses. We believe a precautionary removal is called for, or his preventive arrest…” declared Cavalcante.
The OAB has also filed lawsuits for the impounding of the property of Arruda, eight deputies in the assembly and two substitute deputies – all accused of being part of the corruption scheme.
Leaders of Brazil’s largest worker’s union, the CUT, has vowed earlier this year that they would turn up the pressure on governor Arruda and the legislators involved in the corruption scandal.
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 said it would 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. The union workers, however, haven’t been as active they said they would.