Justice Nefi Cordeiro, Superior Court of Justice Monday (Nov. 12) ordered the release of executive Joesley Batista, one of the owners of meatpacking giant J&F.
Also discharged were three former executives of the company and another 15 under scrutiny as part of Operation Capitu, launched by the Federal Police, including former Agriculture Minister Neri Gueller and ex-Secretary of Defense for Agriculture Rodrigo Figueiredo.
The crackdown probes into an alleged scheme where over $8 million were paid in kickbacks from 2014 to 2015 to public officials and Congress members of the Brazilians Democratic Movement (MDB) in exchange for benefits for the Ministry of Agriculture.
Judge Mônica Sifuentes, who penned the arrest order on November 9, said even though the suspects seemed to collaborate with the investigators—by signing plea bargain deals, for instance—they omitted “relevant facts” and attempted to “direct police authority.”
After examining the case and releasing the suspects, Justice Cordeiro described their arrest as excessive. Concealing facts does not justify deprivation of freedom, he argued. The court authority also understood that the facts under scrutiny are no recent, so there was no risk to the collection of evidence.