Brazil police arrest former minister in World Cup stadium probe

Owen Stevens
June 9, 2017

Judges on Brazil's electoral court were expected to start voting Wednesday in a case that could topple scandal-tainted President Michel Temer.

Since the unpopular leftist leader is already out of the picture - having been impeached for breaking government accounting rules in 2016 - Temer, a conservative, would be allowed to finish his mandate through 2018.

Alves served briefly in the government of President Michel Temer past year, but quit after a month after being implicated in a corruption scandal, as countless top Brazilian politicians have been.

Temer has been hanging by a thread since the revelation of a secret audio clip in which he is allegedly heard giving his blessing to payment of hush money by a meatpacking tycoon to a top politician jailed for corruption.

Temer's lawyers have argued that as the vice presidential candidate in 2014, he should not be held responsible for decisions of the overall ticket. The court is expected to meet for three days and could make a ruling this week.

The TSE had previously been considered unlikely to declare Temer illegitimate.

Even if found guilty, Temer would be able to appeal.

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Brazil's constitution has no clear rules for such a presidential eviction, and in such an unprecedented situation, the court would have to decide whether Temer can continue in office pending an appeal.

A special advisor to Brazilian President Michel Temer has been arrested in a corruption investigation, police said. The president is being investigated after allegations surfaced that he sanctioned bribes to disgraced former parliamentary speaker Eduardo Cunha-who was given a 15-year prison sentence in March for accepting some $40 million in kickbacks. Brazil's Superior Electoral Court planned to begin Tuesday evening the judgment phase of a trial involving allegations that the 2014 Rousseff-Temer ticket received illegal campaign financing.

Federal police sent Temer an 84-point legal questionnaire in the case on Monday, police sources said. Should he reach a plea bargain, his testimony could further implicate Temer.

The justices will decide whether or not the presidential ticket comprised of Dilma Rousseff (PT- Workers' Party) and Michel Temer (PMDB- Brazilian Democratic Movement Party) resorted to illegal economic and political advantages. Temer's lawyers requested Tuesday at the Supreme Court to be given until the end of the week, O Globo news site reported.

Temer has refused to resign since the Supreme Court late last month authorised an investigation against him for alleged corruption, racketeering and obstruction of justice.

If Temer is stripped of office, the Constitution determines that the president of the lower house, Rodrigo Maia, takes up the presidency for 30 days before Congress elects an interim president.

The political crisis engulfing Temer's government deepened on Saturday with the arrest of a close aide, former lawmaker Rocha Loures, who was seen in a police video receiving a bag filled with 500,000 reais ($152,000) in cash.

Other reports by VgToday

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