Supreme Court justice Teori Zavascki, who was overseeing a major graft probe, has died in a plane crash, his son says. The investigation he was handling is expected to implicate large numbers of Brazilian politicians.
Zavascki died on Thursday when the twin-prop plane he was traveling in crashed off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state amid heavy rains, his son, Francisco Prehn Zavascki, said on his Facebook page.
"Dear friends, we have just received confirmation that my father has died. Thank you for all the strength," the son wrote.
Globo news cited firefighters as saying that three of the four people in the plane died in the crash.
Teori Zavascki had been leading an investigation centered on the engineering group Odebrecht and involving at least 6.4 billion reais (1.88 billion euros, $2 billion) in bribes for contracts with state-run enterprises.
So far, the probe into what is the biggest corruption case in Brazil's history has led to the jailing of dozens of senior executives and has been expected to implicate hundreds of politicians.
Under Supreme Court rules, Zavascki's ongoing cases would normally be taken over by a justice named by President Michel Temer, but an exception could be made in urgent circumstances, a court representative said.
tj/kl (Reuters, AP)