BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday named Ricardo Lewandowski, the country’s former Supreme Court judge who decided to release the left-wing leader from prison in 2021, as the country’s new justice minister. Brazil.
Lewandowski, 75, was appointed by Lula to the Supreme Court in 2006 and served in the role until reaching mandatory retirement age last year. Lula then appointed his personal lawyer, Cristiano Zanin, to fill the vacant seat.
At the Justice Ministry, Lewandowski will replace Flavio Dino, appointed by Lula to sit on the country’s highest court in December. Lewandowski, who is expected to take office on February 1, will be under immediate pressure to combat the perception that Lula is failing to tackle rising violent crime.
“It is a victory for the Ministry of Justice, a victory for the Supreme Court and a victory for the Brazilian people,” Lula said.
Lewandowski presided over the Senate impeachment trial of former President Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s hand-picked successor who took over after her second term as president ended. Rousseff was removed from office in 2016, accused of violating tax laws by using funds from state banks to cover budget deficits.
At the highest court, Lewandowski made decisions that helped free Lula after he was convicted in 2019 of accepting bribes from engineering companies as part of the corruption scandal “Car Wash.”
Lula’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2021 when the majority of justices, including Lewandowski, upheld a ruling that the lower federal court where Lula was tried did not have jurisdiction over the case. Lula was released after 580 days in prison and defeated former President Jair Bolsonaro in the 2022 elections.
Lewandowski will have to withdraw from the cases he defends as a private lawyer before becoming Minister of Justice.
He is expected to appoint his own team at the Justice Ministry, but stick to federal police chief Andrei Rodrigues, who was Lula’s security chief during the 2022 campaign.
(Reporting by Ricardo Brito and Anthony Boadle; writing by Peter Frontini; editing by Steven Grattan and Paul Simao)
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