Judge Rogério Schietti of Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice on Friday (Nov. 29) revoked the arrest warrant issued against former Paraguayan President Horácio Cartes. He was brought under scrutiny as part of Operation Patrón, a spin-off of Operation Car Wash, over corruption, money laundering, and an alleged participation in a criminal organization with dollar exchange dealer Dario Messer, arrested since July this year. The ex-leader was not arrested because he is in Paraguay, where he serves as senator.
According to investigators, WhatsApp messages served to confirm the assistance provided by Paraguayan authorities and other citizens in keeping Messer a fugitive in Paraguay and Brazil. The information revealed that the criminal organization made at least $2.5 million available to Messer. Cartes, who ruled Paraguay until August last year was accused by federal prosecutors of having sent $500 thousand to the dealer, to whom he referred to as “soul brother,” when Cartes was still president.
While considering the habeas corpus petition filed by the defense, Judge Schietti understood that the $500 thousand Cartes is said to have transferred is not enough evidence that the erstwhile head of state is guilty of money laundering. The supposed transaction was one of the arguments used by Federal Juddge Marcelo Bretas to rule his imprisonment.
“From reading the arrest order, it does not become clear whether the amount belonged to the petitioner or Dario Messer. Furthermore, one cannot confidently ascertain the purpose of the aid. Nothing indicates that Horácio delivered the money knowing that, later on, the assets would be sent to Brazil as part of the activities to conceal the property of Dario Messer or to finance supposedly illegal operations,” Schietti declared.
In their motion to have their client released, the onetime president’s counsel argued there is no evidence of wrongdoing perpetrated by Cartes, adding that the warrant was unfounded.
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