Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Brazil Congressman Sentenced to Prison for Corruption



On Wednesday, Brazil’s Supreme Court upheld a corruption conviction against a former congressman and sentenced him to prison—the first time a congressman has been imprisoned since the 1988 constitution was put in place.

Natan Donadon will spend 13 years in jail for conspiracy and embezzlement of government funds from the State of Rondônia’s Legislative Assembly in July 1995 and January 1998.

The court’s decision comes in the wake of several other recent government actions to combat corruption in response to continued protests throughout the country.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s congress dropped legislation that protesters worried would hamper corruption investigations. The Chamber of Deputies voted 403-9 to halt the measure—known as PEC 37—that would have stripped federal prosecutors of the ability to investigate cases—a role that has proven important in revealing corruption in the past.

Federal prosecutors played a crucial role in unveiling the 2005 “mensalão” scandal, in which aides of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva bought votes from congressmen for certain pieces of legislation. Critics feared that PEC 37 would prevent prosecutors from making similar discoveries in the future.

The government has also responded to protesters’ grievances by lowering transportation costs in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and over the weekend, President Dilma Rousseff called for constitutional reform to improve the nation’s transport, healthcare and education systems.

Still, protesters continued to gather throughout the country on Wednesday. The largest demonstration in Belo Horizonte—where the Brazilian national football team played against Uruguay in a semifinal of the Confederations Cup—amassed some 50,000 people.

 

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