Three Jan. 8 rioters given prison sentences by Brazil’s STF

Three Jan. 8 rioters given prison sentences by Brazil’s STF

Friday, September 15th 2023 – 10:27 UTC

Most judges followed case rapporteur De Moraes’ rationale

Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court (STF) Thursday handed down prison sentences to three defendants involved in the Jan. 8 riots in Brasilia during which the headquarters of the country’s three branches of government were ransacked, Agencia Brasil reported

Matheus Lima de Carvalho Lázaro, who was arrested in flagrante delicto on the Esplanade with a penknife, was sentenced to spend 17 years in jail in Thursday’s third ruling by the STF. Earlier in the day, the STF sentenced Aécio Pereira, who had been detained at the Senate, and Thiago Mathar, who was apprehended inside the Planalto Palace, to 17 and 14 years in prison respectively.

The STF also decided that Lima de Carvalho Lázaro must pay together with the other defendants the sum of R$ 30 million in compensation for his participation in the depredation of the headquarters of the Three Branches of Government.

The Apucarana resident was arrested on the Esplanade of the Ministries on the day of the attacks, carrying a penknife after leaving the National Congress. According to the investigations, in messages sent to relatives during the attacks, he advocated the army seizing power.

Following the vote of case rapporteur Alexandre de Moraes, the majority of the justices confirmed that the defendant had committed the crimes of armed criminal association, violent abolition of the Democratic State of Law, attempted coup d’état, damage qualified by violence and serious threat and deterioration of listed heritage.

Lima de Carvalho Lázaro’s lawyer Larissa Lopes de Araújo cried during the trial and accused the STF of not respecting the Constitution. She argued that her client did not take part in the depredation and claimed that security camera footage showed the accused at distant points of the Esplanade in less than five minutes of filming.

“At what point did Matheus enter the three buildings and break everything? Tell me! In five minutes? Only if he was a superman,” she insisted.

Regarding Mathar, the majority also endorsed De Moraes’ view. Justices Cristiano Zanin, Edson Fachin, Dias Toffoli, Cármen Lúcia, Gilmar Mendes, and Chief Justice Rosa Weber all agreed Mathar should be convicted of all five crimes as charged. Justice Nunes Marques only recognized the conviction for the two property crimes and acquitted the accused of coup d’état and violation of the democratic state, while Justices André Mendonça and Luís Roberto Barroso convicted him of four crimes.

Mathar’s defense stated that he did not take part in the destruction of the Planalto Palace. According to lawyer Hery Waldir, Thiago was “demonstrating peacefully” and did not take part in the destruction of the Palace. He only entered the building to “take shelter,” the defense argued.

Weber supported the STF’s work, which had been questioned by the legal teams representing the defendants during the two-day trial.

“Nobody likes to hear that we are not loved. For me, the important thing is that the Brazilian people understand that the STF is one of the three pillars of our constitutional democracy and is the guardian of our Constitution. It will continue to stand tall and firm, to the displeasure of some, but in defense of our democratic rule of law,” she said.

During Wednesday’s session, Sebastião Coelho da Silva, a lawyer representing Aécio Pereira, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison, said that the Court’s ministers were the “most hated people in the country”. Coelho is a former judge of the Federal District Court of Justice (TJDFT) and is under investigation by the National Council of Justice (CNJ) for allegedly supporting coup groups. In a video that went viral on social media last year, he appears in the camp that was set up in the army barracks in Brasília, calling for De Moraes’ arrest.

This afternoon, another defender compared the Papuda prison, in the Federal District, where those being investigated are being held, to the Holocaust and said that Alexandre de Moraes “inverts the role of a judge” to become an accuser.

De Moraes said that Hery Waldir had made a “speech to post on social media.”

“It’s pathetic and mediocre for a lawyer to go up to the STF rostrum with hate speech and to post it on social media. Perhaps to be a councilor in next year’s elections,” he said.

The Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) sent a letter to support the court, parts of which Weber read out. OAB President Beto Simonetti showed solidarity with the attacks suffered by the ministers during the trial and expressed his “full confidence” in the magistrates’ correct conduct.

“The OAB reiterates its position that the attacks that took place on January 8 appear to be serious offenses against democratic stability in Brazil and advocates that all those involved be held accountable, ensuring due process of law,” the document stressed.

(Source: Agencia Brasil)


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