BRASILIA – The former president of Brazil’s Supreme Court, Joaquim Barbosa, who handled a major corruption trial during the administration of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, acknowledged that he was “frightened” of far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, the frontrunner ahead of Sunday’s runoff election.
Barbosa, a fierce critic of the Workers Party (PT), said Saturday via Twitter that he will vote for Fernando Haddad, who replaced Lula as the PT candidate after the former Brazilian president was arrested on a corruption conviction, for which he is serving a 12-year sentence.
“For the first time, 32 years after we regained the right to vote, I am frightened by a candidate, and that is why I will vote for Fernando Haddad,” the former justice said.
Barbosa made history in Brazil by becoming the first black member of the Supreme Court after being nominated by Lula in 2003.
He then became renowned for handling the trial on the “mensalao” scandal, involving bribes paid by the PT to secure votes in Congress, which affected much of the party’s leadership and threatened to bring down Lula’s government in 2005.
Lula was not charged back then, but he was investigated in the midst of another corruption scandal involving the Petrobras national oil company, for which he was convicted in January to 12 years in prison.
Bolsonaro, who leads the polls ahead of Sunday’s election, has raised the alarm among human rights organizations, as he has repeatedly made sexist, racist, homophobic and even anti-democratic statements.
The far-right candidate has firmly defended the 1964-1985 military dictatorship and has openly defended the use of torture.
Nonetheless, Bolsonaro is leading in all of the polls, with some 56 percent of respondents planning to vote for him on Sunday, compared to 44 percent in Haddad’s case.