Top Brazilian judge strips former president Lula of office

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Brazil, Mar. 19 (ANI): Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes has ruled that former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva should be stripped of a ministerial role so that corruption charges against him can be investigated.

Mendes said President Dilma Rousseff’s decision to name Lula her chief of staff appeared designed to shelter him from the prosecutors’ charges of money laundering, the move which sparked protests in various cities across the country.

“The goal of the falsity is clear: prevent the carrying out of preventative arrest order.. It would be plausible to conclude that the appointment and subsequent swearing-in could constitute fraud of the constitution,” Mendes wrote in his ruling, reports the Guardian.

The protests in several cities following Lula’s appointment on Wednesday means only the Supreme Court can investigate him which places him beyond the reach of a crusading judge heading the country’s biggest ever graft investigation into corruption at state oil company Petrobras.

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The move temporarily puts an end to the legal see-sawing that saw Lula win and lose ministerial status several times in the past 36 hours, as 50 injunctions against his appointment to the Cabinet was filed by judges from across Brazil.

Jose Eduardo Cardozo, the solicitor-general, said Mendes’ decision to the Supreme Court would be appealed by the government.

The matter will be next taken up on March 30. (ANI)

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