Posts Tagged ‘Case News’

August 16, 2013

Government Corruption Case

One of the biggest cases in Brazil returned to the country’s highest court and began hearing appeals by the 25 people convicted in a scheme to buy pro-government votes. The high-profile political bribery case is raising hopes for a concrete way to stop corruption in Brazil. This process could last months.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the group offering appeals consists of former government officials, party members and business executives who were convicted last year of organizing the vote-buying scheme from 2003 to 2005.

The case, which is popularly referred to as the “mensalão” or the big monthly payoff, has been a part of the protests that have swept the country this summer. The outrage is that none of those convicted have been sent to jail and overturning any of the sentences could add fire to the demonstrations and make things worse.

“The trial, the appeals, and the continued freedom of most of the mensalão culprits…demonstrate the huge dysfunction of Brazil’s judicial system,” said Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue think tank. “The high visibility of the mensalão is an important part of the explanation of why Brazilians have such a low regard for congress, the executive, and justice system.”

This corruption case just adds to the overall feeling of an unjust government and judicial system. A study from anticorruption watchdog Transparency International found that 81 percent of Brazilian respondents believe political parties are the most corrupt institutions, while 50 percent believe it is the judiciary branch. This feeling will not be going away overnight but the outcome could have a major impact on it.

July 10, 2013

Dossier of Slain Investigator

In 2012, Paulo Magalhães, a Brazilian lawyer, retired police officer, university professor and head of the Non Governmental Organization Brazil Truth, was investigating the murder of journalist Paulo Recaro. Magalhães was part of a special unit that was looking into organized crime and government corruption when two men pulled up next to him on a motorcycle and opened fire. He was struck 13 times and killed.

The investigation into the crime and the circumstances have been ongoing since then and new evidence could be set to emerge. It is being reported that a dossier prepared by Magalhães with complaints against judges and members of the prosecution is currently being reviewed by the Civil Police. He had delivered it to the Brazilian National Council of Justice (CNJ) prior to being killed because he feared a possible attack.

Delegate Edilson de Oliveira, who heads the investigation of the murder, spoke about the state of the investigation.

“If the information provided by the CNJ are consistent with the investigation, we will include it,” Oliveria said.

At the time of his death, Magalhães was investigating allegations of corruption in the upper echelons of power in Mato Grosso do Sul. The dossier contains information on CNJ cases that had already been filed and prosecuted and revealed illegal acts. Some of them he presented during a speech at a public hearing of the Council in 2010 in the Capital.

During the session, Magalhães cited the crimes of embezzlement, malfeasance and extortion by public authorities in cases that were undergoing judicial proceedings in the state. Time will tell how this dossier will factor into the investigation and what other key pieces of information it holds.

June 14, 2013

Debate over Foreign Healthcare

Many countries have long-running debates over their healthcare systems and Brazil is no different. This week, the Brazilian Senate began debating a bill that would increase the participation of foreign investment in the country’s healthcare services. The proposal is that hospitals and clinics maintain at least 51 percent of Brazilian equity and there are restrictions on foreign investments for certain services.

There is a public hearing being held at the Economic Affairs Committee where several individuals are speaking about why this piece of legislation would be a positive development for the country and its residents.

“I am in favor of clear rules on investment are established and in terms of which manner it can be applied to expand private services,” said Health Minister Alexandre Padilha. “There is deficit of specialized beds, for urgent care and emergency services, diagnostics and for ICUs.”

According to the National Association of Private Hospitals, the organization needs another 14,000 beds in order to provide quality care to the new users of health plans. Budgets restrictions caused the group to eliminate 18,000 beds at the same time that 5 million users were being added.

Currently, the law only allows for the entry of foreign investments in hospitals in the case of international grants, technical cooperation and non-profit services. If passed, an estimated 75 percent of the population will benefit from improved services and care options.

If passed, this will open up a new market for international business. Any company that seeks to take advantage of the opportunity should partner with Brazilian lawyers to make sure they are able to successfully open up shop.

June 11, 2013

Budget constraints don’t excuse poor healthcare

Every person wants to have access to quality healthcare. Regardless of laws, regulations and other outside factors, individuals want to be able visit a doctor when needed and receive care that will keep them healthy. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done and in Brazil, this issue is being debated.

At a seminar sponsored by the National Council of Justice, the opening address was delivered by Joaquim Barbosa, the president of the Federal Supreme Court. He spoke about the problem of budget constraints and how it should not be used to justify the lack of access to healthcare in the country.

He said that in the event of budget constraints, unlimited granting of any treatment or medication cannot be imposed on the State. However, that cannot be presented as the reason of exemption for compliance with constitutional regulations, especially the fundamental right to health.

He added that the “inequalities” in the sector have forced the courts to act “strictly” to ensure access to medical care, as well as install preventative measures against diseases.

“In Brazil, inequality in healthcare is so significant that it has become imperative for the judiciary to act with great accuracy and precision to prevent the gap between citizens from widening even further,” Barbosa said. “And this duty undoubtedly has a sole objective which is the realization of the right to health.”

Any company that is doing business in the country should partner with Brazilian lawyers to make sure their employees are getting the healthcare measures they need.

June 10, 2013

Debate on lowering the age to be tried as an adult

It would seem like a rare moment when both defense and criminal attorneys agree on a procedural matter, but that is the case now in Brazil as the attorney general and the Brazilian Federal Bar Association (OAB) are opposing a potential decision by the country’s senate. The rule would lower the age that someone can be tried as an adult from 18 to 16.

The reason for the change is lower crime rates when it comes to situations of extreme violence and crime. There are current regulations in the Constitution and the Statute of the Child and Adolescent that forbids criminal punishment of persons under 18 years of age. Individuals from all sides of the argument are currently being heard by the house.

Representatives from the OAB have said this change would not help fight crime. According to Marcus Furtado Coelho, the president of the OAB, the proposal does not accomplish its intended purpose and the criminal justice system would not be fulfilling its role as the current prison system does not reintegrate the detainees into society.

Raquel Elias Dodge, a federal prosecutor, added in her argument that criminal punishment of persons under 18 years old does not allow for the rehabilitation of young offenders. Only proper education measures can handle that, which will not be available if they are locked away.

“In the end, the goal of the regulation is to recover this youth and not to punish. Allow him to have a healthy life, a future,” Dodge said.

This outcome could affect anyone traveling or doing business in the country. Those individuals should seek out Brazilian lawyers to make sure they understand the laws if they change.