Brazil prosecutor seeks ‘obstruction of justice probe’ against Rousseff

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff waves at the crowd during a demonstration to mark International Workers' Day, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 1, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA


Rio De Janeiro / AFP

Brazil’s top prosecutor has asked the Supreme Court to open a probe into alleged obstruction of justice by President Dilma Rousseff, Brazilian media reported, in a potentially explosive twist to the country’s political crisis.
According to reports in the Globo, Folha de Sao Paulo and Estadao dailies, chief prosecutor Rodrigo Janot has requested authority to open an investigation into the embattled president and also her predecessor and key political ally Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Officials could not immediately be reached to confirm the reports, published on Tuesday.
But if confirmed, the probe into Rousseff would be on top of a separate investigation that Janot earlier Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to open against Lula and three of Rousseff’s ministers in relation to corruption at the state oil giant Petrobras.
Rousseff—who could face the start of an impeachment trial on separate charges as early as next week—allegedly colluded with Lula to obstruct a judge leading a huge investigation into corruption at Petrobras by top politicians and executives, Janot was quoted as stating.
Rousseff’s current attorney general, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, is also implicated. At issue is an attempt by Rousseff to name Lula, who retains broad influence despite having left office, to a post in her government. Rousseff said she wanted him to lead her defense against impeachment.
But prosecutors, who wire-tapped the president’s phone conversation with Lula, said the appointment aimed to obtain ministerial immunity for the ex-president. Lula, who is fighting corruption charges related to the Petrobras scheme, risks being prosecuted by the main investigating team led by Judge Sergio Moro.
However, if he were in the government, he would gain limited immunity, with only the Supreme Court able to handle his case.
The Supreme Court is now preparing to rule on whether he can take his post.
Janot’s filing, if confirmed, would ramp up pressure on Lula and Rousseff. Prosecutors looking into the controversy have decided that Lula’s nomination was part of a “scenario” involving several attempts to obstruct Moro’s investigation into the Petrobras scheme, Estadao newspaper reported.

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