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Brazil prosecutor blocks 'Lula' appointment

Jacob AlexanderApril 8, 2016

Brazil's prosecutor has recommended the highest court annul former president Lula da Silva's appointment to a top cabinet post. Meanwhile, President Rousseff's rival faces corruption allegations.

Brasilian former President Lula da Silva
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Moreira

President Dilma Rousseff's appointment of her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as cabinet chief suffered a near fatal blow Thursday after a prosecutor delivered a negative recommendation.

The appointment would have given da Silva some immunity from prosecution by lower courts because ministers and elected officials can only be tried by the Supreme Court in Brazil.

But Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot delivered a report to the Supreme Court, which has already put a hold on the appointment while legal arguments are made and now must deliver its final verdict.

Janot wrote in his findings that the cabinet appointment was intended to remove the investigation from the lower court judge and "disrupt" the corruption probe known as "Operation Car Wash." This is related to a widening graft scandal involving the state oil company Petrobras.

Dirty money all around?

Anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro
Anti-corruption judge Sergio MoroImage: Imago

The latest twist in the political crisis for the president comes as Rousseff faces impeachment proceedings in Congress over separate accusations of financial irregularities to mask budget shortfalls during her 2014 re-election campaign.

But the taint of corruption may extend to Rousseff's accuser after a black market dealer told an ethics panel that more than $5 million(4.4 million euros) had been funneled to the speaker of Brazil's lower house of congress.

Leonardo Meirelles told the Chamber of Deputies' Ethics Committee that he converted $5.1 million into Brazilian reals and turned the money over to his partner, Alberto Youssef, who told him it was for Eduardo Cunha, a political rival of the president.

Cunha is a driving force behind the impeachment of Rousseff and is second in line to succeed her should she be forced to resign.

He is also facing money-laundering charges in connection with the scheme at Petrobras where bribes were allegedly paid to win contracts from Petrobras.

The political soap opera is not amusing to most Brazilians as Latin America's largest country sinks deeper into its worst recession for a generation.

jar/jm (AFP, Reuters)