As a sitting president, Michel Temer will only be put on trial if two-thirds of Brazil's lower house votes to suspend him from office
In this Aug. 16, 2017 file photo, Brazil's President Michel Temer speaks during a ceremony at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil. President Temer has been charged with obstruction of justice and of leading a criminal organization on Thursday, Sept. 14, in the latest fallout from a wide-ranging corruption probe that has ensnared many of the elite in Latin America's largest nation. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File), photo: AP/Eraldo Peres, File
14 of September 2017 19:37:59
SAO PAULO – Brazilian President Michel Temer was charged with obstruction of justice and leading a criminal organization on Thursday, another blow to the embattled leader and the stability of Latin America's largest nation.In widely expected filings to the country's top court, Attorney General Rodrigo Janot accused Temer's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party of receiving nearly $190 million in bribes in a scheme to trade in political favors and influence."Temer gave the needed stability and security to the criminal apparatus, appearing at the same time as the leader and foundation of the organization," Janot said in the indictment.He also accused Temer of instigating the payment of hush money to jailed former Speaker Eduardo Cunha and to a political operator — both of whom he allegedly feared could give damning evidence on him.Joesley Batista, former chairman of JBS, the world's largest meatpacker. Batista received immunity from prosecution in exchange for giving damning testimony about Temer's involvement in bribery and cover-up schemes.But Janot has since raised questions about whether Batista withheld information, and on Wednesday he said he was revoking Batista's deal and charging him with impeding the investigation.Batista's lawyer, Antonio Carlos de Almeida Castro, called the charge "disloyal," saying Janot was penalizing his client for coming forward.While Temer still has significant support in Congress, as his victory over the first indictment showed, he is extremely unpopular among voters — creating a rocky road ahead for Brazil, even if Temer avoids a trial."This is a very uncertain moment.... Temer has many friends in Congress, and it is Congress that will vote," said Fabiano Angelico, transparency and politics consultant based in Sao Paulo. "But the accusation is very serious. Uruguay's vice-president resigned for much less a couple of weeks ago."Brazil's economy has only just returned to growth after a two-year recession, and voters go to the polls next year, so many lawmakers are calculating how best to hold onto their own seats in Congress."Brazil is in a difficult moment now," said Angelico. "The old order has not fallen and the new order is yet to be born."Wednesday's charges came hours after authorities raided the home of Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi as part of an investigation into whether he bribed state lawmakers during his 2003-2010 terms as governor of Mato Grosso.Police also raided offices of eight state lawmakers and the mayor of the state capital, Cuiaba, in connection with the case.Maggi, who is one of Brazil's wealthiest agro-business leaders and is known as the king of soybeans, denied any wrongdoing in his political or business dealings.
MAURICIO SAVARESESARAH DiLORENZO