Brazil Supreme Court authorises police questioning of President

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Brasilia, May 31 (IANS) Brazil’s Supreme Court said it has authorised the police to question President Michel Temer about corruption allegations.

The head of state has the option to respond in writing to a list of questions, rather than submit to an interrogation in person.

The Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction over cases involving senior officials and members of Congress, is investigating Temer on suspicion he accepted bribes and conspired to obstruct justice, Efe news reported.

The ruling by the high court on Tuesday did not specify a date for the questioning of the president by Federal Police.

Temer’s legal woes stem from plea-bargain testimony by the chairman of Brazilian meat-packing giant JBS, Joesley Batista, who provided documents to prosecutors that purportedly show his company paid bribes to the president and hundreds of other politicians.

Batista also handed over secret recordings in which Temer appears to encourage the continued payment of hush money to a former speaker of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, who was convicted of graft earlier this year and sentenced to more than 15 years in prison.

The documents and recordings were made public May 19, a day after the Supreme Court launched a formal investigation into Temer.

Under Brazil’s constitution, the president’s resignation or removal would require Congress to choose someone to serve out the balance of the 2015-2019 term of his predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, who was ousted from office last year via impeachment for breaking budget laws.

Cunha, one of the most prominent political figures to be ensnared in a $2 billion bribes-for-inflated contracts scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras, spearheaded the effort that led to Rousseff’s impeachment.

In the face of growing calls for his resignation, Temer has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to stay on as president.

–IANS

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