Brazil’s President Faces New Graft Charges
BRASILIA (Dispatches) - Brazilian President Michel Temer was charged with obstruction of justice and racketeering on Thursday, according to a statement posted on the prosecutor general’s office website, threatening to delay the government’s economic reform agenda in Congress.
It is the second set of criminal charges filed against the president based on the plea-bargain testimony of the owners of the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA.
They accused Temer of taking bribes in return for political favours and of conspiring to buy the silence of a witness who could implicate the leader.
In a statement on Thursday, Temer strongly rejected all allegations of wrongdoing.
Temer’s earlier corruption charge, that he took bribes from JBS officials, was blocked in August by Temer’s allies in the lower house of Congress, which has the power to decide whether a president should stand trial by the Supreme Court.
Despite the lower house’s move to block the charges, they remain valid and can be pursued by prosecutors once Temer leaves office. His term ends on Jan. 1, 2019.
Brazil’s top public prosecutor Rodrigo Janot has also filed charges against Joesley Batista, the billionaire former chairman of JBS who implicated Temer. Batista was arrested on Sunday for concealing other crimes in his plea bargain deal.
Batista’s lawyer Antonio Carlos Kakay rejected the charges brought by Janot, arguing in a statement that the prosecutor had violated the rules of plea bargains by using his client’s testimony to incriminate him.
On Wednesday, Batista’s brother Wesley, the chief executive officer of JBS SA, was also arrested for alleged insider trading to avoid hefty losses related to the May plea deal.