The man who spent two decades as the political right arm of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was found guilty here Tuesday in a corruption case dubbed Brazil's "trial of the century."
Six of the 10 Supreme Court justices voted to convict Jose Dirceu, Lula's chief of staff, and former Workers Party, or PT, chairman Jose Genoino in connection with bribes paid to lawmakers in 2003-2005.
While Dirceu has been out of public life for several years, Genoino is currently an adviser to the Defense Ministry.
At Lula's side from the founding of the PT in the early 1980s, Dirceu managed the former union leader's successful 2002 presidential campaign and became his top aide in office.
Dirceu, once seen as the natural successor to Lula, was forced to resign as chief of staff in the summer of 2005 after lawmaker Roberto Jefferson accused the PT of having bribed legislators of other parties to build the congressional majority that the government failed to obtain at the polls in 2002.
The scandal didn't stop Lula from winning a second four-year term in 2006 and his anointed successor, Dilma Rousseff, prevailed in the 2010 presidential contest.
The Supreme Court majority accepted prosecutors' argument that Dirceu was the "mentor" of the bribery scheme.
Two justices declined to convict Dirceu, including one who worked with him during Lula's first administration, while the remaining court members have yet to render their verdicts.
Former PT treasurer Delubio Soares was also found guilty on Tuesday, as were public relations executive Marcos Valerio Fernandes, his three business partners, his attorney and one of his employees.
Fernandes handled the disbursement of the bribes to congresspeople.
Anderson Adauto, a former transport minister, and another Fernandes employee, Geisa Dias, were acquitted on Tuesday.
Twenty-three of the 37 defendants have been convicted. EFE