Brasilia, April 1 (IANS/EFE) Brazil’s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the case concerning former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will remain under its jurisdiction, thereby removing it from federal Judge Sergio Moro, who is overseeing the probe into a huge corruption scheme centered on state oil company Petrobras.
The decision was based on the fact that Moro, in developing a case against Lula, ordered some controversial telephone tapping of the former president conversing with incumbent President Dilma Rousseff.
The tapes were publicly released by Moro on the same day that Rousseff named Lula chief minister, which piled more wood on the fire of the political crisis besetting the country.
Critics accused Rousseff of naming Lula to the cabinet to obstruct the investigations of her predecessor.
While senior officials are not immune from prosecution, they may be tried only before the Supreme Court.
The naming of Lula to a cabinet post was the target of a series of court injunctions and remains pending, awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court.
Lula is under investigation for alleged money laundering and misrepresentation of assets in a case linked to the Petrobras scandal.
Rousseff’s administration says Lula was appointed to help the government respond to a severe political and economic crisis.
The president is facing possible impeachment for allegedly using accounting trickery to hide the true size of the nation’s budget deficit in 2014 and 2015.
Judge Moro has gained prominence in Brazil for overseeing the investigation into the massive graft scheme at Petrobras, a scandal that has ensnared top company executives and dozens of politicians — both allies and enemies of the president.
Prosecutors say executives at the oil giant accepted bribes from large construction companies in exchange for approving inflated contracts and funnelled some of the money to politicians, a scheme that allegedly ran from 2004 to 2014.