Brazil’s apex court takes over ex-president’s graft probe

Brasilia, April 1 (IANS) Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) ruled that it would be taking immediate charge of a corruption investigation into former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, removing Judge Sergio Moro from the case, the media reported on Friday.

The decision taken on Thursday confirms a statement last week by STF Justice Teori Zavascki that the court was the only one empowered with investigating the former head of state, who now serves in the cabinet of President Dilma Rousseff, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, this does not necessarily mean the STF would finally pass a sentence on Lula, as this will be debated next week at the same time as it decides whether Lula can take a place in President Dilma Rousseff’ s cabinet as chief of staff or whether doing so would impede investigations.

The former president, who served from 2003-2010, has denied all wrongdoing.

In a statement, Zavascki affirmed that Moro had leaked the conversations too early and had “hurt the role of the STF”.

“The judge must send all the intercepted conversations to the Supreme Court. The decision to leak conversations of the president. ..does not remove the seal of secrecy (concerning the matter),” he said.

One of the conversations disclosed on March 16 was a short call from the president’s office, in which Rousseff mentioned that she was sending Lula the ‘decree of investiture’ to be used “in case of need”.

Opponents have seized upon this as evidence that Rousseff was naming Lula to help him avoid prosecution.

However, earlier this week, Moro apologised to the STF, recognising that he had been wrong to release the recordings and had violated the rights of the president.

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