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Thursday 13th
posted by Morning Star in World

by Our Foreign Desk

ONE-THIRD of constitutional coup President Michel Temer’s cabinet and many of his closest allies face investigation after the Supreme Court ordered corruption proceedings targeting eight ministers and dozens more top politicians.

In total, 108 people will be investigated following Justice Edson Fachin’s ruling, which brought together 74 probes involving plea bargain deals and testimony from former and current executives with the Odebrecht construction giant at the centre of a bribes-for-contracts scandal.

The list of the names was published on the Supreme Court website on Tuesday night.

Targets include presidential chief of staff Eliseu Padilha, Chamber of Deputies speaker Rodrigo Maia, Senate president Eunicio Oliveira and the ministers of foreign affairs, agriculture and trade.

Also being investigated are the leaders of the two major parties in Mr Temer’s coalition.

The politicians have all denied any wrongdoing, while Mr Temer has temporary immunity from prosecution because Brazilian presidents can only be charged for crimes they committed during their term in office.

After authorising the investigations, the attorney-general will proceed with them and later decide whether the accused should go on trial.

Mr Temer said recently that any ministers standing trial should step down from their cabinet posts.

The judge’s decision comes as a body blow to Mr Temer, who is already fighting to survive an electoral court trial that could remove him from office for illegal campaign financing.

He is also trying to drive vicious austerity measures through Congress at a time when his voter-approval rating has fallen as low as 10 per cent.

When the list was publicised, Congress members fled,

abandoning a key vote on helping financially strapped state governments and forcing its cancellation.

The Supreme Court investigates politicians who hold office because of its special jurisdiction and is often slower than lower courts that go after senior figures.

Justice Fachin sent 201 other investigations to lower courts for judges there to decide whether they should proceed.

He decided too that nine state governors would have their investigations analysed by another court.

Odebrecht and state oil giant Petrobras are at the heart of a wide-ranging investigation involving kickbacks and inflated contracts at state companies.