According to the court, the magistrate has received attacks from “support groups” to the former minister. “Requests for investigation have already been forwarded to the PF [Polícia Federal]”, says the Court’s advice.
Milton Ribeiro was arrested on Wednesday (22) and is being investigated for participating in an alleged scheme to release funds from the Ministry of Education, with lobbying by evangelical pastors. In all, Federal Police agents fulfilled five arrest warrants and 13 search and seizure warrants.
Ribeiro’s defense denies any irregularity in the command of the portfolio and says that the arrest is “unfair and unreasonable”. The lawyers presented a request for habeas corpus to the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region (TRF-1) asking for his release.
Milton Ribeiro — Photo: EVARISTO SA / AFP
The former minister spent the night in a Federal Police detention in São Paulo and, this Thursday, must undergo a custody hearing by the Federal Court in Brasília by videoconference. According to the court, the hearing is scheduled for 2 pm.
In addition to Milton Ribeiro, Helder Bartolomeu, Luciano de Freitas Musse, Pastor Gilmar Santos – who are imprisoned in Brasília – and, also by videoconference, Pastor Arilton Moura, who is imprisoned in Pará, should be heard.
Despite the determination of the 15th Federal Court for the immediate transfer of the former minister to the federal capital, the PF argued that it did not have the logistics to do so on Wednesday or Thursday in time for Milton to arrive at the scheduled time for the hearing.
Video shows moment when former minister Milton Ribeiro is arrested by PF around 7 am
The former minister was arrested on Wednesday morning, in the building where he lives, in Santos (SP). He is investigated for passive corruption, prevarication, administrative law and influence peddling for alleged involvement in a scheme to release funds from the MEC, favoring pastors.
The investigation against Ribeiro was opened after the newspaper “O Estado de S. Paulo” revealed, in March, the existence of a “parallel office” within the MEC controlled by the pastors.
Days later, the newspaper “Folha de S.Paulo” released an audio of a meeting in which Ribeiro said that, at Bolsonaro’s request, he transferred funds to municipalities indicated by Pastor Gilmar Silva.
“It was a special request that the President of the Republic made to me on the issue of [pastor] Gilmar”, said the minister in the audio.
“Because my priority is to first serve the municipalities that need it most and, second, to serve all those who are friends of Pastor Gilmar”, added Ribeiro.
After the audio was revealed, Ribeiro left the command of the Ministry of Education. In testimony to the PF at the end of March, the former minister confirmed that he received Pastor Gilmar at the request of President Jair Bolsonaro. However, he denied that any favoritism had taken place.
Records from the Institutional Security Office (GSI) point to dozens of accesses by the two pastors to offices in the Planalto Palace.
Bolsonaro’s statements before and after Milton Ribeiro’s arrest
Asked about the arrest of the former minister by the PF, President Jair Bolsonaro said that Ribeiro is the one who should answer for possible irregularities at the head of the MEC.
“He is responsible for his actions,” Bolsonaro said in an interview with Itatiaia radio. The president also said that “if the PF arrested him, he has a reason.”
However, at the time the denunciations were made, Bolsonaro even said, in a video (watch above), who put “his face in the fire” for Ribeiro and that the accusations against the former minister were “cowardice”.
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