Brasilia: Brazil’s top prosecutor has asked the Supreme Court to open a corruption probe into powerful ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and three of current President Dilma Rousseff’s ministers, the court said.
Also named were several key figures from Rousseff opponent Michel Temer’s PMDB party, which is at the forefront of efforts to impeach Rousseff.
The request cites allegations of involvement by some 30 suspects in the giant kickbacks scheme at state oil company Petrobras which has engulfed some of Brazil’s most influential politicians and executives.
Lula is already facing charges in a separate case related to the Petrobras scandal, but the latest move seeks to draw him and the other high-profile politicians directly into the central probe focused on the corruption scheme.
“The request aims to include them in the main inquiry which is into a criminal organisation,” a spokesman for the Supreme Court told AFP in Brasilia.
A lower court, headed by a judge in the town of Curitiba, has been leading the Petrobras probe, uncovering what is believed to be Brazil’s biggest ever corruption scandal, featuring a network of politicians who took bribes to facilitate inflated Petrobras contracts for crooked construction companies and others.
But criminal cases involving government ministers and other high-ranking officials are handled exclusively by the Supreme Court.
The latest target list included Lula, Rouseff’s chief of staff Jacques Wagner, Political Affairs Minister Ricardo Berzoini and Social Communications Minister Edinho Silva.
But it also names opponents of Rousseff, notably the speaker of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, who is from the PMDB and has spearheaded the impeachment proceedings against the president.
Senator Jader Barbalho from the PMDB was also on the list.
Rousseff is considered likely to be suspended from office next week when the Senate votes whether to open an impeachment trial. If the Senate will vote again at the end of the trial, months from now, on whether to terminate her mandate.
She is accused of illegally manipulating government budget accounts, but says the charges are politically motivated and that her opponents, led by Temer, are mounting a coup to eject her from office. (AFP)