The first day of suspended President Dilma Rousseff’s trial, presided by Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, lasted over 15 hours. There were fierce clashes between those who defend Rousseff should remain in office and her opponents.
At the end of the session, Senator Renan Calheiros told reporters the first day was "long, boring and tiring." "The first day is always tenser, troubled; the parties clash over their conflicting points of view," he said.
The situation grew increasingly tense and led Justice Ricardo Le'wandowski to suspend the session for a few minutes to try to restore order. A commotion began when Senator Gleisi Hoffman said that no senator had the moral high ground to deliberate on whether Dilma Rousseff should be permanently removed from office.
"There is no one here in a position to judge anyone. What is the Senate’s moral to deliberate on a president?" she asked in a visible fiery temper. Her statement was interrupted by hostile demonstrations from other senators off the microphone, including Ronaldo Caiado, to whom Hoffman responded by accusing him of being a "slaver".
As the quarrel continued involving other senators, prosecutor Julio Marcelo de Oliveira only testified after the lunch break.
Júlio Marcelo de Oliveira made the report recommending the rejection of Dilma Rousseff’s 2014 government accounts. He was supposed to testify as a prosecution witness but was heard as an informant as ruled by Justice Ricardo Lewandowski after Rousseff’s defense lawyer José Eduardo Cardozo disqualified him. Cardozo accused Oliveira of having made his recommendation to Federal Court of Audits (TCU) based on his personal understanding leaning towards indicting the suspended president. The prosecutor denied it, stating that it was a recommendation to adopt a “less lenient” criterion came from the TCU.
Oliveira reaffirmed that Rousseff broke budget laws in 2014 and also in 2015.
On the other hand, José Eduardo Cardozo mentioned reports produced by several other experts expressing opposite opinions about signing supplemental budget decrees and transactions between the Treasury and state-led bank Banco do Brasil for Plano Safra agricultural plan (subsidized loans for agricultural workers). Júlio Marcelo de Oliveira considered them to be credit transactions, prohibited by Brazil’s Fiscal Accountability Act, but Rousseff’s counsel maitained they were just the government’s delay to transfer the money.
"Your Excellency may admit that there is an interpretive discussion and two theses are given for the interpretation of Fiscal Accountability Act, or will you say 'the others do not know anything, only I know the truth'? Are there alternative interpretations of the law?," asked Cardozo, after asserting that open interpretations should benefit the president.
The prosecutor responded that the president has not signed a credit transaction contract, but ordered Banco Brasil to bear the costs of Plano Safra—which is prohibited by law—“through chains of command".
As Oliveira testified as an informant, his complaints cannot be offered as evidence for the process, but only as technical information.
Antonio Carlos Costa D'Ávila Carvalho Júnior, an auditor for the Federal Court of Audits (TCU), testified next as a prosecution witness. He led the team that helped draft the report that classified Rousseff's accounting tricks—which became known as “fiscal backpedalling”—as a crime. According to the report, Dilma Rousseff is accountable for delaying transfers to state banks—Banco do Brasil, Caixa (the Federal Savings Bank), and BNDES (the National Development Bank)—that would go into funding several government programs. The move, which involved $18.36 billion, was held by the auditor to be a credit operation, which is prohibited under the Fiscal Accountability Act (LRF). Rousseff's defense contended that the LRF was not breached because, as Senator Lindbergh Farias noted, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) said there were no credit operations, so the president could not be found guilty of impeachable offenses.
Rousseff's lawyer, José Eduardo Cardozo, accused Costa D'Ávila of bias, because D'Ávila helped Prosecutor Júlio Marcelo de Oliveira draft the complaint filed with the TCU for consideration. For Cardozo, “this is clearly an unethical situation that violates the principle of impartiality.”
Costa D'Ávila conceded, “I have helped the Public Prosecution Service, Prosecutor Júlio Marcelo, draft the complaint, because it is a very specific theme, one that influences public finance. He came to me for help and I could never refuse,” said the auditor, arguing he was asked to help because he is a lecturer on the subject.
The session resumed at 9am on Friday (Aug. 26) with the testimonies of defense witnesses: legal advisor Geraldo Luiz Mascarenhas Prado, former finance minister Nelson Barbosa, economist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, former federal budget secretary Esther Dweck, former executive secretary for the Education Ministry Luiz Cláudio Costa, and Ricardo Ribeiro Lodi, a Law professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).
Dilma Rousseff will be heard by the senators on Monday (29). According to Senator Humberto Costa, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be there to watch her testify.
Translated by Amarílis Anchieta/ Mayra Borges
Fonte: First day of Dilma Rousseff trial in climate of "political confrontation”