The nausea. And an antidote: the presumption of innocence

Image: Elyeser Szturm
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By Marco Aurélio de Carvalho and Fabiano Silva dos Santos*

A society terrified by violence wakes up to the news of a shocking crime: a young white woman raped, beaten and left in a coma on a pool of blood, in a central park in the city.

Officials say enough is enough. A task force is formed, coordinated by one of the most experienced prosecutors in the country in cases of sexual violence. Under strong pressure from the press, hundreds of suspects are being investigated. A businessman pays for advertisements in newspapers calling for the death penalty. Investigators work incredibly quickly.

During the interrogations, four young black men aged 14 to 16 record their confessions on video: “I raped her”, “I hit her on the head”, “I held her”. Against another, a little younger (16 years old), only the incriminating testimonies of the others. At trial, however, these same young people claim innocence. They say they were forced to confess.

They spent hours alone in the hands of interrogators. Not even counting the presence of family members. Their lawyers show serious flaws in the accusations. Facts and evidence are ignored There are videos: “I raped”…

Society is terrified. The media is on the markup. All end up sentenced to terms of 6 to 13 years in prison. And then there are the videos. Indisputable proof. The prosecutor becomes a celebrity, inspires TV series and writes best-selling detective novels. Justice has been done.

Until, ten years later, the real criminal appears. A new analysis of the case is made and DNA tests (ignored in the trial) prove that the five young people convicted were innocent. Four lives crushed by the violence of reformatories, and another by the well-known atrocities of the American penitentiary system.

The case is true and took place in New York City in 1989. It is in the series “The eyes that condemn”, released this year on Netflix. As has been said with singular happiness, the series leads us to “live the feeling of injustice in such an intense way that it even produces a physical discomfort”.

Prosecutors rushed, confessions obtained by force, processes accelerated, businessmen complaining and the media marking every move as it does the price of a share on the stock exchange. Convictions without evidence. Authorities enjoying fame. Audience avid for “blood, sweat and bombs”.

We've seen a lot of this type of film around here too. But, in recent days, from the disclosure of confidential conversations between a judge and a prosecutor, we were taken for the first time to the secret rooms where the plot was written. As in the Netflix series, everything happened with the support of a public opinion that was increasingly eager for “justices”.

Who, like us, already saw and denounced arbitrariness, is not surprised. We are nauseated, reliving injustices with each new dialogue revealed by the site The Intercept. Nothing like witnessing loose prose to understand things as they really are: the revelation of the dialogues between Lava Jato judge Sérgio Moro and prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol is one of the saddest episodes in a series of violations of basic rules of due legal process in Brazil.

Inevitable commonplace: the king is naked!

The characters in this prose manipulated legal pieces, always concerned, however, with advancing on the political board. And the fact is that these moves took innocent people to jail, as in the case of young people in the Netflix series, and with a huge aggravating factor: they directly interfered in the last presidential elections.

Here, as there, the trial began at the end. A marked card game. The degree of promiscuity revealed by the messages published this past Sunday makes everything even more serious and frightening. With the aim of persecuting a certain political group, and preserving many others, the Task Force acted in an outrageously criminal manner, even compromising the outcome of the investigations promoted until then.

Those involved must immediately step away from their duties. It is the minimum that is expected and required.

Curitiba was the scene of a story of men of law, “upright and refined”, prepared to fight crime with perspicacity and intelligence actions. A tale of heroes that made many believe in “something new”. That his legal arguments were crooked, we already knew. What the leaked dialogues reveal is that Lava Jato employed the worst investigative methods, typical of a police station in a minority neighborhood in New York. Nothing later.

With the necessary review of judicial decisions, new injustices can be avoided. It is expected, therefore, as a “remedy”, the return of the literal application of the constitutional command according to which “no one should be considered guilty without the final and unappealable conviction”. If it doesn't solve it, it's undeniable that it helps.

In this specific case, finally, under penalty of further demoralization of our Justice System, it is essential that the Supreme Court, in the judgments announced for the next few days, recognize the partiality with which Judge Sérgio Moro conducted the processes that were under his jurisdiction. responsibility.

Lula's freedom is, today, the best answer and the only way out.

*Marco Aurélio de Carvalho is a lawyer specializing in public law. Founding partner of Grupo Prerogativas and ABJD

*Fabiano Silva dos Santos He is a lawyer, university professor and doctoral candidate in Law at PUC/SP. Founding partner of Grupo Prerogativas

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