Brazil’s top court au­tho­rises new in­ves­ti­ga­tion of pres­i­dent

The Myanmar Times - - World -

BRAZIL’S top court au­tho­rized a new corruption and money laun­der­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer on Tues­day, yet an­other case that raises the pos­si­bil­ity of his sus­pen­sion from of­fice. Supreme Court Jus­tice Luis Roberto Bar­roso ruled there is suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to in­ves­ti­gate whether Te­mer signed a de­cree in May 2017 to fa­vor a com­pany op­er­at­ing in the port of San­tos in ex­change for bribes.

Bar­roso also au­tho­rized an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Ro­drigo Rocha Loures, a for­mer Te­mer aide ac­cused of car­ry­ing bribe money for Brazil’s leader in a sep­a­rate case.

Te­mer said in a state­ment that he “had no in­ter­fer­ence in the de­bate” which led to the de­cree and that he “ac­cepted the de­lib­er­a­tions and tech­ni­cal ad­vice, with­out any kind of po­lit­i­cal pres­sure stain­ing the whole process.”

Brazil’s top pros­e­cu­tor, Ro­drigo Janot, whose at­tempt ear­lier this year to put Te­mer on trial for a corruption charge was re­jected by Congress’ lower house, will lead the new in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­til his term ends Sun­day. Raquel Dodge, an ap­pointee of the pres­i­dent, will take over as chief pros­e­cu­tor Mon­day.

There is no dead­line for the top pros­e­cu­tor to de­cide on the case.

If Te­mer should be for­mally ac­cused by Janot or Dodge, Congress would have to vote again on whether the pres­i­dent should be put on trial. If two-thirds of deputies agreed, Te­mer would be sus­pended for up to six months and the leader of the Cham­ber of Deputies would fill the pres­i­dency un­til the end of the trial.

Bar­roso said in his de­ci­sion that the au­tho­riza­tion for in­ves­ti­ga­tion did not mean Te­mer was guilty, but the jus­tice called ev­i­dence against the pres­i­dent “plau­si­ble” and the re­quest to in­ves­ti­gate him “rea­son­able.”

“No one should be in­dif­fer­ent to the per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal onus for a pub­lic au­thor­ity, no­tably the pres­i­dent, in ap­pear­ing as in­ves­ti­gated in a pro­ce­dure of this na­ture. But that is the price im­posed by repub­li­can prin­ci­ples,” Bar­roso wrote.

Janot for­mally ac­cused Te­mer of corruption and money laun­der­ing in July, but the Cham­ber of Deputies de­cided not to sus­pend the pres­i­dent for al­legedly be­ing paid bribes by ex­ec­u­tives of JBS, a big meat­pack­ing com­pany.

On Mon­day, two ex­ec­u­tives of that com­pany were ar­rested for al­legedly hid­ing ev­i­dence from pros­e­cu­tors. Politi­cians ex­pect Janot to come for­ward later this week with a new charge against Te­mer, this time al­leg­ing ob­struc­tion of jus­tice and be­ing mem­ber of a crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion. That in­ves­ti­ga­tion was au­tho­rized by Supreme Court Jus­tice Luiz Ed­son Fachin ear­lier this year. – AP

Photo: AP

Brazil’s Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer smiles dur­ing a meet­ing with busi­ness­men and trade unions at the Planalto pres­i­den­tial palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Tues­day, Septem­ber 12, 2017.

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