A view of the windows in the room where Jose Roberto Arruda is being held in at the Federal Police compound in Brasilia. Below, a view of his bunk beds and office desk.
THE political crisis in Brasilia continues with the Federal District Governor Jose Roberto Arruda still being held at the headquarters of the Federal Police, a month after he was accused of trying to obstruct an investigation into massive corruption in his administration.
The threat of federal intervention in the governing of the Federal District has eased for the time being, with the federal Supreme Court loath to intervene in a district that was given political emancipation only in 1988.
Last week the Federal District Assembly voted to begin impeachment proceedings against Arruda. If he does not resign before the process is over, which takes several months, he could see his political rights suspended for up to eight years. Last Saturday, two district representatives tried to serve Arruda with the notice of the impeachment proceedings, but he refused to receive it, later saying in a handwritten letter to the Federal District Assembly that he wanted access to the full report on his impeachment before accepting the notification. The representatives returned last Monday with two witnesses to corroborate that they had informed Arruda of the proceedings against him, and served him with the notice.
Arruda’s lawyers have been trying to get him moved to house arrest, something the Supreme Court justices have not been inclined to allow since this would facilitate his communication with supporters, and thus possibly make it easier for him to interfere in the Federal Police’s ongoing investigation into corruption in his administration.
The governor is currently allowed visits only from his immediate family and his lawyers. His wife Flavia brings him lunch everyday, although she is not allowed to be alone with him in his room. He is being held in a room of approximately 16.8 square meters in the Federal Police headquarters compound in Brasilia. He had previously been held in a room of 40 square meters. He has access to newspapers and magazines, but is not allowed access to television or telephones. His lawyers claimed that he was being held in a “masmorra”, or a subterranean jail, which forced the Attorney General’s office to release pictures last week of his quarters which showed the room had clean white walls, a bunk bed, an office desk, a small refrigerator, a little sofa and a window.
Arruda’s lawyers have also been claiming that the governor is suffering from pains in one of his ankles, which they claim is swollen and is linked to his diabetes. Two visits to a private hospital this week found Arruda in good health, taking away yet another reason his lawyers were trying to use to push for house arrest.
The three-time former governor of the Federal District, Joaquim Roriz, who is now 75 years old, has been running political ads on television showing himself talking casually about the “shame of corruption” that is currently rocking Brasilia. Roriz is expected to run in the October elections for governor again. He has been embroiled in several corruption scandals in the past, which make his criticisms of Arruda extra ironic. Will voters here remember that when they go to the polls in October? One can only hope so.