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Brazil top court grants new trial in corruption case

The Brazil Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday ruled 6-5 that 12 former political and business leaders found guilty in the nation's biggest corruption trial have the right to a new trial. The defendants were convicted [JURIST report] after it was discovered that, as top aides to former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, they had paid off legislators to support the ruling Workers Party Initiatives in Congress. The court found that new trials were warranted for criminal counts which received at least four not-guilty votes, entitling 12 of the 25 defendants to a new trial regarding their money laundering convictions. Because most of these 12 defendants were convicted on other counts, a new trial could only lessen their sentences and make them eligible for parole earlier. The court's decision has outraged many who viewed the earlier convictions as an end to impunity and now want to see a quick end to the case. Justice Celso de Mello [official profile] said that the high court must remain a place for the protection of fundamental freedoms, despite the public outcry.

Government corruption continues to be a global problem. On Monday the Philippine Justice Department [official website] filed graft charges against nearly 40 current and former government officials and a prominent businesswoman for allegedly misappropriating millions of dollars in governments funds intended for the poor. Earlier in September Spanish lawmakers passed amendments to Spain's freedom of information law that aim to combat political corruption [JURIST report]. The amendments, which increase accountability for the use of public funds, include political parties, the royal family, lobbies, unions and employers' associations. Also in September a lawmaker within Myanmar's parliament announced [JURIST report] that the legislative body intends to draft a bill that forms groups to monitor corruption in court proceedings. During the same timeframe the Chinese Ministry of Supervision began investigating [JURIST report] Jiang Jiemin, director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. The investigation stems from Jiemin's alleged involvement in an undisclosed "serious discipline violation." Human Rights Watch reported [JURIST report] in August that widespread police corruption in Liberia is denying Liberians equal and impartial justice and impeding the country's postwar development.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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