Sergio Cabral, then governor of Rio de Janeiro, smiles during a visit to a Brazilian construction site on November 8, 2013; he is expected to be freed soon from prison after serving six years on massive corruption charges
Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - The former Rio de Janeiro governor accused of receiving huge bribes over construction work for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics will soon be free after six years in prison, following a ruling by Brazil’s highest court.
The magistrates of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) voted three to two late Friday to place Sergio Cabral under house arrest pending further appeals.
His lawyers said the 59-year-old former journalist would probably be released from prison on Monday.
Cabral was sentenced to more than 425 years in prison in 23 corruption cases, but no higher court has yet heard his appeals.
Prosecutors say he purchased jewelry and other luxury items with embezzled money – even paying for a horse-riding lesson for his son.
STF Judge Gilmar Mendes, whose vote proved decisive Friday, said Cabral could not be held “indefinitely” under a preventive measure taken to avoid any possible destruction of evidence should he be allowed to await trial in freedom.
But Mendes added that his decision did not in any way amount to Cabral’s acquittal.
Cabral served as Rio governor from 2007 to 2014, years in which Brazil was picked to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Revelations of large-scale corruption involving Cabral shocked public opinion in Brazil.
The diversion of millions of dollars of funds directly affected the public finances of Rio, leaving it near bankruptcy just months after the Olympics.