STF seeks to expand powers with special forum, and opposition reacts in Congress

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JULIA CHAIB AND MARIANNA HOLANDA
BRASILIA, DF (FOLHAPRESS)

The judgment of the action that discusses the expansion of the scope of the special forum in the STF (Supreme Federal Court) has the potential to expand the powers of ministers before the National Congress and also former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL).

The advancement of the issue in the court has already provoked a reaction from members of the opposition, who threaten to vote on a PEC (proposed amendment to the Constitution) that restricts the forum if the Supreme Court changes the current rules, which is the trend.

The court already has five votes to determine that the forum be maintained even after the end of the parliamentary term of politicians for any reason – resignation, non-reelection or impeachment.

The topic is discussed after a change made by the court itself in 2018, when it was decided that only crimes committed during the mandate and related to the exercise of office should be judged by the Supreme Court.

The change in the forum’s rules in 2018 reduced the number of cases being processed in court.

Data from 2022 from the STF show that the number of criminal actions and investigations in court fell by 80% compared to the period in force before the rule change.

If a new understanding is reached by the Supreme Court, this means that a large part of parliamentary processes would continue in the hands of the STF, which increases the court’s pressure power in relation to the Legislature – which has adopted a series of proposals that contradict the magistrates.

According to those who follow behind the scenes at the Supreme Court, this is precisely the main reason for ministers to increase the scope of the forum.

On another front, the trial could also end one of the main challenges in Bolsonaro’s defense, with an effect on all five investigations in which he is being investigated.

The first case that led to an operation against the former Chief Executive, in May of last year, was suspected fraud with a vaccination card. At the time, the documents, cell phone and computer of former aide-de-camp Mauro Cid were seized.

Bolsonaro’s defense appeal argues that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to judge the case and that it should be referred to the first instance. The argument is that there is no relationship with the president’s term. Based on this, the lawyers also asked for the nullification of all evidence.

But the evidence obtained in this first investigation influenced all four others in which Bolsonaro and his allies are investigated. Less than a year later, Cid became a collaborator with the Federal Police.

One of the five votes already in favor of the thesis of expanding the forum, the rapporteur, minister Gilmar Mendes, argued that the person under investigation should lose his prerogative only if the crime was committed before taking office.

The trial was interrupted, on Friday (29), by a request from the president of the STF, Luís Roberto Barroso. The magistrate voted in 2018 to restrict the scope of the special forum – which was seen by a wing of politics as a generator of impunity, as criminal actions in the Supreme Court tended to progress more slowly.

According to allies, Barroso interrupted the trial to better analyze the case because he understood that the rapporteur’s vote expanded the scope of the forum beyond the understanding prior to 2018. Even so, the court’s bet is that the new understanding, which expands the scope of the mechanism, must be approved.

Ministers Cristiano Zanin, Dias Toffoli and Flávio Dino accompanied Gilmar. Even with the suspension of the trial, Alexandre de Moraes decided to bring forward the vote to fully monitor the rapporteur’s position.

Opposition parliamentarians complained about the STF’s move to change the case law six years after establishing it. Bolsonaristas want, as a political response, to vote in the Chamber plenary on the PEC that would once again restrict the forum.

The text, from 2017, has already been approved by the Senate, the CCJ (Constitution and Justice Commission) and a special committee of the Chamber, just waiting to be approved to go to the plenary. The proposal restricts the special forum in Justice to the presidents of the Republic (and vice president), the Chamber, the Senate and the STF.

Representative Bia Kicis (PL-DF) also said that she should discuss this issue with the President of the House, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), next week. “We’ll talk, for sure,” she said.

“This decision [do STF] goes in the opposite direction of what Congress intends to do. It is very clear that we are working to put an end to the so-called privileged forum or forum by function prerogative, a measure that has already proven unfair,” he said.

“Minister Gilmar’s vote, on the contrary, wants to expand the STF’s jurisdiction for criminal trials, changing a decision already settled by the majority of the court a short time ago. It’s legal uncertainty knocking on our door once again,” he added.

Representative Sanderson (PL-RS) says he believes that the Supreme Court has the objective of reaching Bolsonaro, of whom he is an ally, by making changes to the scope of the special forum. “I have no doubt that the objective is to establish the competence of the STF just to cover the trial of former president Jair Bolsonaro”, says the parliamentarian.

“This will be a shameful testament to the court’s bias, since on the fateful January 8th the President of the Republic was Lula”, he continues.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: STF seeks expand powers special forum opposition reacts Congress

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