[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Brazil [official website, in Portuguese] on Monday sentenced a former aide to ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva [BBC profile] to over 10 years of imprisonment for his involvement in a vote-buying scheme. Jose Dirceu, Lula's former chief of staff, was convicted of using public funds to pay coalition parties [BBC report] for political support. In addition to serving 10 years and 10 months in prison, Dirceu must also pay a fine [Rio Times report] of approximately USD $330,000. In addition to Dirceau, Workers Party (PT) Treasurer Delubio Soares was sentenced to nearly nine years of in prison and must pay a fine of over $155,000. And former PT President Jose Genoino was sentenced to approximately seven years of imprisonment and must pay a $225,000 fine. All three are accused of involvement in the "Mensalao" [Veja backgrounder, in Portuguese] scandal.
The recent trials for those accused of participating in "Mensalao" have been hailed as a potential turning point [NYT report] for Brazil in the country's fight against corruption. However, observers warned that with Brazil hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, the risk for corruption remains high [WSJ report]. In August 2011 Brazilian Judge Patricia Acioli, known for taking a hard-line against corrupt officials and militia death squads, was shot and killed [JURIST report] outside of her home by two masked men on motorbikes. Acioli was one of three judges executed [O Globo report, in Portuguese] in Brazil in the past eight years for their investigations into organized crime.