A court in Brazil is to start a major trial against President Michel Temer which could unseat him over alleged wrongdoing during the campaign that led to the election of running mate Dilma Rousseff in 2014.
The electoral court was to open the proceedings against Temer on Tuesday after receiving testimony from executives of giant meatpacker JBS SA, who had said they gave illegal funds to Rousseff-Temer campaign three years ago.
The court had been expected to indict Rousseff, the former president who was kicked out of office last year after the opposition launched a successful impeachment.
Different scenarios have been proposed if Temer is forced to leave office like Rousseff. Some say he may appeal the conviction, delaying the process of finding a replacement for months. Others say a verdict against him could prompt members of his coalition government to withdraw their support and force him to resign. Sources close to the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, the main partner in Temer’s governing coalition, said the party was waiting for a court ruling to decide whether to abandon Temer’s government.
Left-wing parties, represented by Temer, have called for snap elections so that Brazilians could pick their leader directly and avoid a caretaker government until general elections in 2018.
Brazil dipped into a fresh political crisis after revelations that Temer had endorsed the payment of hush money to silence a key witness in a massive graft scandal. Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered an investigation last month into Temer’s alleged corruption, racketeering and obstruction of justice.
A close aide of Temer was also arrested on Saturday after he was seen in a police video receiving a bag filled with 500,000 reals (about $152,000) in cash, further complicating the political crisis engulfing Temer’s government.