Brazil’s former president files petition at the UN


SAO PAULO (AP) — Lawyers for former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Thursday that they have filed a petition at the U.N. Human Rights Committee alleging a lack of impartiality and abuse of power by the judge investigating the mammoth corruption-kickback scandal at Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras.

Besides Silva’s attorneys, the petition filed in Geneva was also signed by British lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, a human rights specialist.

From his office in London, Robertson told reporters in Sao Paulo during a conference call that the petition details alleged violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by Judge Sergio Moro, who is leading the Petrobras investigation. Moro declined to comment to The Associated Press.

Maristella Basso, a professor of international law at the University of Sao Paulo, said the initiative was unlikely to bear fruit.

“Brazil doesn’t have prestige in that U.N. commission. It doesn’t even comply with the resolutions of that very commission,” she said. “There is no symbolic or practical sense in this.”

Silva’s defense disagreed, saying any Brazilian citizen can appeal to the U.N. committee.

Silva argues his rights were violated by Moro on two occasions.

On March 5, the complaint notes, the judge authorized federal police to forcefully compel him to give a deposition even though he was already cooperating with the investigation. Even some opposition members have called that excessive. Moro said then that he allowed the police to haul in Silva for security reasons, citing fears that demonstrations could complicate efforts to question him. Protests happened anyway.

The second event was a week later. Hours after Silva was appointed chief of staff for his hand-picked successor as president, Dilma Rousseff, Moro released recorded conversations of the former president with family members, his lawyer and other politicians, including Rousseff. The part containing conversations with Rousseff has been invalidated as evidence by Brazil’s top court.

The recording’s release led to Silva’s nomination being suspended by the courts and accelerated the consensus that led to Brazil’s lower house voting to impeach her. She now awaits a trial by the Senate for allegedly breaking fiscal laws.

Silva, a once-immensely popular president who governed in 2003-10, has called Moro’s actions part of a campaign to sully his image, that of his party and that of Rousseff.

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Associated Press writer Stan Lehman reported this story in Sao Paulo and AP writer Mauricio Savarese reported from Rio de Janeiro.

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