Brazil court suspends lower house speaker amid graft scandal

May 5, 2016 7:28 pm

Eduardo Cunha, president of the Lower House of the Brazilian Congress, speaks on a mobile phone during a session in Brasilia on April 16, 2016. ©AFP

’s top court suspends Lower House Speaker Eduardo Cunha amid allegations against him in the corruption scandal surrounding state oil giant oil Petrobras.
On Thursday, a justice on Brazil’s Supreme Court suspended Cunha for obstructing efforts to investigate him.
Judge Teori Zavaski in his ruling said that Cunha did not meet the requirements to exercise his role as speaker.
Prosecutors had earlier urged the court to take action against Cunha who “used his office for his own illicit ends to prevent the success of investigations against him.”
In March, the court voted to put Cunha on trial, accusing him of taking USD 5 million in bribes as part of a vast embezzlement network centered on Petrobras.
The suspension comes at a time of deep political and economic crisis in the country.
Cunha is a key opponent of President Dilma Rousseff and architect of impeachment proceedings against her.
On April 17, two-thirds of the 513 delegates in Brazil’s lower chamber of Congress voted in favor of impeaching Rousseff, based on allegations that she manipulated fiscal rules in the lead-up to her 2014 re-election.
Brazil’s Senate is expected to vote by no later than May 17 on whether to hold an impeachment trial for the president.

The picture taken on April 19, 2016 shows Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff (R) being greeted by women supporters who rallied in front of Planalto Palace in Brasilia. ©AFP

If the Senate votes to accept the case, Vice President Michel Temer will become Brazil’s acting president for a maximum of 180 days until a final verdict is reached.
Recent polls show that over 60 percent of Brazil’s 200 million people back impeaching Rousseff.
The president has called the impeachment process illegitimate and illegal, saying she is the victim of a coup mounted by her vice president and some others.
President Rousseff is also under fire over a graft scandal at Petrobras, where she was the manager before taking office as president in 2010.
However, Rousseff has denied the allegations against her as politically-motivated, accusing the opposition of orchestrating a coup.
During a recent defiant interview, Rousseff said she would keep fighting to the bitter end to return to office.
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