BRASILIA – A member of Brazil’s Supreme Court issued an injunction preventing Congress from passing an anti-graft bill that critics say is really meant to shield corrupt politicians.
Judge Luis Fux effectively nullified a vote in the lower house of Congress in favor of the bill, which began as a citizen initiative but underwent extensive modification at the hands of lawmakers.
The ruling is “unusual, to say the least,” lower house speaker Rodrigo Maia said Thursday, calling the injunction “clear interference by one branch of government in the affairs of another.”
Congress will ask the full 11-member Supreme Court to review the decision, he said.
The changes made by legislators to the original bill have spurred public protests.
Among the provisions introduced by Congress is one mandating prison terms for judges and prosecutors convicted of vaguely defined offenses such as acting on partisan political motivations.
The text submitted to Congress with the support of 2 million citizens was “disfigured” by lawmakers, Fux said, ordering a new debate on the measure.
“There remains barely a figment of popular participation when a text originated by a significant number of voters is ... crushed by amendments that cater only to the interests of the political class,” the judge wrote.
The lower house passed the controversial amendments a day before 77 former executives of construction giant Odebrecht were to begin cooperating with the courts in the investigation of a $2 billion corruption scheme centered on state oil company Petrobras.
Though the executives’ testimony remains sealed, it is rumored to implicate roughly 200 politicians from all major parties, including dozens of members of Congress.