Brazil 'Mensalao' corruption trial concludes

Lula (left) and Jose Dirceu (r), archive photo Jose Dirceu (right), seen here with ex-President Lula, was one of those convicted as part of the trial

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Brazil's Supreme Court has concluded the trial over one of the biggest political corruption scandals in the country's recent history.

Over the course of the trial, 25 people were convicted for setting up a scheme that used public funds to pay coalition parties for political support.

Several were top politicians of the governing Workers Party (PT).

In its final session, the Supreme Court ruled that three congressmen involved in the scandal would lose their seats.

They are Joao Paulo Cunha of the Workers Party, Pedro Henry of the Progressive Party, and Valdemar Costa Neto of the Party of the Republic.

'Historic trial'

Among those convicted during the four-month-long trial was Jose Dirceu, who was former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's chief of staff from 2003 to 2005,

Mr Dirceu was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in jail.

The former head of Lula's Workers Party, Jose Genoino, and its treasurer, Delubio Soares, were also convicted.

The scandal, which erupted in 2005, for a time threatened to engulf the Lula administration but he was comfortably re-elected as president the following year.

Lula himself was not implicated in the case and has denied any knowledge of the scheme.

He left office at the end of 2010 with huge approval ratings, and remains a popular figure in Brazilian political life.

The trial, which became known as the "Mensalao" or the "Big Monthly" allowance, was seen as a key test of Brazil's ability to hold its politicians to account for corruption.

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