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The Princess and the Prosecutor | Gurgel & The Sarney Clan

Source: Brasilianas.
By Mauricio Dias, Carta Capital, 11/23/2012
Translation: C. Brayton

The uproar among the opposition and  government base alike in response to the report produced by Odair Cunha (PT-MG) — work product of the high-profile congressional inquiry into the criminal activity and elective affinities of numbers racketeer Charlie Waterfall — are a positive sign.

Cunha made a lot of people uncomfortable and crossed a number of vested interests.

We still do not know whether the committee report on the case will weather the storm and find safe harbor. In the beginning, it resembled a small boat under fire by heavy guns. It seemed it might sink before it even had time to weigh anchor.

Drawing up a list of indictments and subjects of interest was heavy work. In the end, however, rhe rapporteur judged the evidence sufficient to bring down the state government of Marconi Perillo (PSDB-GO); to incriminate journalists who violated professional ethics in their relationships with Waterfall  — Policarpo Jr. of Veja —; and to cause serious trouble for Fernando Cavendish of Delta Construction, among other cases.

One such  noteworthy case is that of federal attorney-general Roberto Gurgel himself.

Gurgel is a big fish. The negative reaction of the press to his name appearing on Cunha’s list is proof of his influence. Gurgel has become a most unconventional prosecutor, emerging as an important player in a short- and long-term political gambit. He has shown himself to be a political adversary of Dilma, a player in the effort to neutralize the political capital of Lula, and, in general, as a force to reckon with in the effort to bring the PT’s era in power to an end..

If approved, however, Cunha’s report could bring Gurgel down and possibiy even affect his succession as Attorney-General, scheduled for July 2013.

In the Cunha report, Roberto Gurgel is accused of constitutional, legal and bureaucratic irregularities.

As such, the approval of the report will require the case to be taken up by the Constitution and Justice committee in the Senate, which has the power to prosecute the federal prosecutor for administrative malfeasance.

In the Supreme Court, Gurgel could be tried for obstructing justice and administrative abuses.

In the Cunha report, Gurgel was targeted for shelving accusations arising out of Operation Vegas.

It was this conduct that led to suspicions that he played a role in the criminal activity of Charlie Waterfall, investigated by the federal police. Gurgel told the CPI that he had found only “ethical failings” by the defendant, insufficient to file a criminal case.

There are other problematic cases in Gurgel’s drawer, however.

For nearly 100 days he has sat on a case involving Governor Roseana Sarney (MA), who is accused of signing contracts with municipalities worth some R$ 1 billion. It is up to Gurgel to issue a ruling that could cause Roseana to be removed from office.

Some see signs of collusion between Gurgel and Roseane’s father, Senator José Sarney. A number of striking coincidences support this theory.

José Arantes, Gurgel’s legislative aide, for instance, was a legislative aide to Sarney when Sarney was president. Mere coincidence?

Maybe not. One difficulty with this theory, about which this column has already written, nearly drove the speaker of the lowe house to distraction.

On November 20, federal deputy Marco Maia harshly and very publicly berated the Senate for delaying a vote on the nomination of Luiz Moreira to head the CPMN — the National Council of the Public Ministry — which had already been passed in the lower house.

Was this some sort of slowdown strike orchestrated by Gurgel?

That is to say, was the nomination tabled by Sarney as a favor to Gurgel? Did Gurgel keep a lid on the case against Roseana as a favor to Sarney? In sum, are we not witnessing a shameless exchange of political favors?

Mino Carta sums up the case as follows:

Brazilian are surprised, if not shocked, to learn that Odair Cunha, rapporteur of the Waterfall inquiry, is calling for the indictment of the Veja journalist and a long list of others, including Goiás governor Marconi Perillo. Cunha is also calling for an investigation of federal attorney-general Roberto Gurgel. In all, 46 names are listed, including a number of journalists, though none with the cachet of Policarpo. Here, I hasten to prepare my heart to receive the traditional litany of protests against an attack on the freedom of the press. As every knows, here in the tropics this freedom is equivalent to the freedom of the media barons and their henchmen to do as they see fit. They manipulate. They lie. They hide facts from the reader.

When the facts about the behavior of Policarpo, Veja and Abril came out some months ago, no less than a true-born Marinho was dispatched to Brasília to meet the vice-president of the Republic, Michel Temer, whom he alerted to the risks to the media oligopolies should Policarpo be summoned for questioning.  He was followed by a senior executive of the Abril group bearing the same message. If there ever was a plan to summon Policarpo, it died during those meetings. Temer knows how to get things done.

At any rate, the media is ready. Aligned as ever with the same ideological current, the major dailies accuse Cunha of giving in to political pressure from his party, the PT.

But look here, we have all witnessed, in one way or another, the consequences of the «big payola» trial. We saw the Supreme Court, representing the third power in our system of democracy, commit innumerable acts of judicial folly, not least the use of an interpretation unsuited to the facts. It was undeniably a political show trial during which the TSF caved to media pressure rather than listening to the sentiments of the majority, which was by and large uninterested.