Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil Mensalao trial: Supreme court upholds jail terms

'Mensalao' defendants (L to R): former Treasurer of the Workers Party (PT) Delubio Soares; former Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Government Jose Dirceu and and former President of PT Jose Genoino
Image caption Delubio Soares, Jose Dirceu and Jose Genoino (L to R) could soon be starting their jail terms

Brazil's Supreme Court has upheld jail terms against most of the politicians, businessmen and bankers convicted in the country's biggest corruption trial.

More than 20 people were convicted over a scheme to pay opposition politicians for supporting the former government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The court did not say exactly how many would be put behind bars.

But among them is Mr Lula's former chief of staff, Jose Dirceu, who was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months.

Also facing time in jail are the former chairman of the governing Workers Party (PT), Jose Genoino, and former party treasurer Delubio Soares, court officials told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

Mr Lula was not implicated in the case.

The central allegation of the case was that illegal payments and benefits were paid to members of Congress in return for supporting the government in crucial votes.

The "Mensalao" (big monthly allowance) scandal came to light in 2005 but the sentences were handed down at the end of 2012.

The trial was seen as a key test of Brazil's ability to hold its politicians to account for corruption.

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

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