Brasília Governor Loses Office to Stay Politically Alive

José Roberto Arruda The jailed governor of the Federal District, José Roberto Arruda, in a gambit, in what has long been a juridical-political chess game,  has decided he will not appeal a decision by the Regional Electoral Court (TRE-DF) that removed him from office for “political party infidelity.”

By accepting the forfeiture of office ruling by the TRE-DF, Arruda “escapes” impeachment by the Federal District Legislative Chamber (CLDF), while the CLDF itself gets off the hook as well: it no longer has to impeach him or authorize the Superior Justice Court (STJ) – the federal appellate court – to prosecute him for breach of trust.

As Arruda will no longer be an elected official, he no longer will have “privileged venue in court” or “privileged accommodations in jail.”  That means he will face criminal charges – specifically falsifying documents and trying to bribe a witness – as a common citizen.

In consequence he will be put on trial now in a lower court (Tribunal de Justiça do Distrito Federal e Territórios (TJDFT) instead of at the Superior Justice Court (STJ). And if found guilty will go to the Papuda penitentiary. However, all that remains a slight possibility.

Arruda’s gambit seems to be that by accepting punishment for an electoral crime he will be able to avoid facing the criminal charges, stay alive politically and get out of jail.

Chico Leite, an opposition deputy in the CLDF, called these possibilities the result of a “strange contradiction” in Brazilian electoral laws that should be changed urgently.

“With the TRE condemnation, Arruda gets forfeiture of office and he also gets a justification for not facing the charges of political-administrative crimes!”

Arruda also does not lose his political rights, which means that he can run for office again.



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