Federal police have carried out raids in homes belonging to the speaker of Brazil's lower house, Eduardo Cunha. He has been at the forefront of efforts to impeach the country's president, Dilma Rousseff.
Cunha was among several top politicians who found themselves at the center of sweeping raids conducted by Brazilian authorities on Tuesday, a week after the country's top court put a halt to the impeachment process he's led against Rousseff.
The speaker of the country's lower house of parliament, Cunha is under investigation for allegedly accepting millions of dollars in bribes in connection with a scandal at state-run oil company Petrobras.
Cunha denied the charges, insisting he was completely innocent.
On Tuesday, an ethics committee voted 11-9 to launch a probe against him over whether he lied to parliament about holding foreign bank accounts.
Federal police also raided homes of other politicians, confiscating phones, computers and documents, but not making any arrests.
The political battle drags on
Brazilian politics is currently in turmoil, as Rousseff digs in her heels ahead of what is expected to be a long, drawn-out impeachment trial. The Supreme Court last week decided to temporarily delay the process until December 16.
Rousseff's impeachment is tied to 2014 campaign funding, and allegations that she violated budget laws to increase her spending and secure re-election. So far, the sprawling scandal at state oil company Petrobras has not implicated Rousseff directly.
Despite being part of a broader alliance centered around Rousseff's Workers' Party, Cunha is also a sworn enemy of the president. He has accused her of manipulating state finances, and has urged his PMDB party to formally split with the government and run a presidential candidate in 2018. Among other key policy points, Cunha and Rousseff differ over how to combat Brazil's recession, after a record year-on-year decline of 4.5 percent in third quarter GDP figures this year.
This past weekend, tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets to call for Rousseff's impeachment, with the Petrobras scandal and poor economic performance only adding fuel to the fire. However, the number was significantly lower than the more than 100,000 protestors calling for Rousseff's resignation in August, suggesting the momentum driving the impeachment process may be starting to wane.
blc/msh (AP, AFP)