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Brazil Ex-President Michel Temer Released After 4 Days in Jail

Judge rules politician’s preventive detention unjustified but he remains under investigation

March 25, 2019 6:44 p.m. ET

SÃO PAULO - Brazil’s former President Michel Temer was released from jail Monday, four days after his arrest on accusations of leading a criminal enterprise, after a federal judge ruled he doesn’t represent a risk to public safety.

Judge Antonio Ivan Athié also ruled that the alleged crimes for which Mr. Temer was arrested happened too far in the past to justify his detention, an opinion some legal experts say they agree with.

Mr. Temer remains under investigation and would face a jail sentence if tried and convicted, and his conviction were then upheld by an appeals court.

Prosecutors said on Thursday, when Mr. Temer was arrested, that he and as many as nine associates pocketed up to half a billion dollars as recently as 2014 in a scheme involving construction contracts at a nuclear power plant in Rio de Janeiro state, among other deals.

Mr. Temer's lawyer, Eduardo Pizarro Carnelós, said last week there was no legal basis for his client's arrest and asked a judge to release his client.

The prosecutors who last week requested Mr. Temer's arrest said they would appeal Judge Athié's decision to release the former president. The prosecutors' office said they expected a decision from a superior court on Wednesday. If that court rules in favor of the appeal, Mr. Temer would have to return to jail.

Judge Athié also ordered the release on Monday of Mr. Temer's associates who were also arrested last week.

Mr. Temer wasn't charged with a crime upon his arrest, but was instead taken in preventively, an action prosecutors in Brazil can request if there is concern the detainee could be a danger to the public or might in some way try to interfere with the investigation.

"At the current point of the process, none of the justifications for preventive prison are there," said São Paulo-based lawyer Pierre Moreau, adding he had expected the judge to rule as he did. Authorities "got ahead of themselves" when they arrested Mr. Temer, Mr. Moreau said.

Mr. Temer was arrested as part of the sprawling Operation Car Wash corruption probe, which began as an investigation of money laundering that then uncovered a bribery scheme at state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.

Prosecutors involved in that investigation have sometimes requested preventive arrests, often out of concern that suspects might destroy records or otherwise obstruct the probe.

Such arrests, while popular with a population tired of corruption and clamoring for justice, have come under criticism when circumstances don't justify the practice.

"There's a lot of pressure from people for the judiciary to act," Mr. Moreau said, suggesting that prosecutors might have used it more often than necessary.

 

Autor: Jeffrey T. Lewis and Luciana Magalhaes Data: 25/03/2019 The Wall Street Journal https://www.wsj.com/articles/brazil-ex-president-michel-temer-released-after-4-days-in-jail-11553553878

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