Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court has set June 6 as the date on which the trial that could unseat incumbent President Michel Temer will restart.
The Electoral Court will determine whether or not the Dilma Rousseff-Michel Temer 2014 re-election campaign won due to the use of illegal funds. If the court convicts the campaign, the race will be annulled, and Michel Temer would lose his office.
The prosecution has asked for the conviction of the defendants. It calls for the suspension of Rousseff’s political rights for 8 years and the impeachment of President Temer. If that happens, then House Speaker Rodrigo Maia will become Brazil’s interim President for three months. Then, the country will hold new, indirect elections for a term ending in December 2018.
Prosecutors have stated that, while evidence points to the fact that Rousseff condoned the corrupt financing of her campaign, there’s no evidence against Michel Temer. He would be unseated because a conviction of the campaign automatically annuls the 2014 election.
The trial started on April 4, but Brazil’s Electoral Court decided to interrupt it to grant more time for the preparation of closing statements and to subpoena four more witnesses. Two of them, João Santana and Mônica Moura, were particularly damaging to the defendants.
The couple coordinated the campaign. During their statements, they detailed to the court the illegal schemes that the campaign pulled to pay for their services. According to Moura, the 2014 reelection effort cost 105 million Brazilian Reals – i.e. $34 million. Part of the money went to undeclared offshore accounts.
While there’s plenty of evidence that the massive corruptionschemes affected the presidential race, President Michel Temer has little reason to worry. First, the panel of judges is in his favor. That is particularly the case with Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes, who presides over the Brazil Electoral Court.
Furthermore, according to Brazilian law, any judge can request more time to analyze the process at any point of the trial. If the tide turns against Temer, there will probably be a judge who needs more time. And better still, there’s no legal limit of time for that analysis – which means that a justice could sit on the case until the end of Temer’s term.
A few Electoral Justices, however, have pointed out the principle of reasonability as the limit. Well, these are not reasonable times in Brazil.