Monday 25 September 2017

Brazilian ex-presidents accused of forming criminal group

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with ousted president Dilma Rousseff (AP)
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with ousted president Dilma Rousseff (AP)

Brazil's top prosecutor has accused former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and several of his political allies of leading a criminal organisation in order to extract millions in bribes.

Attorney general Rodrigo Janot also named Silva's successor, Dilma Rousseff, and several members of their administrations or party in the charges, filed with the Supreme Federal Tribunal.

He accuses them of orchestrating the receipt of around £370 million in bribes from 2002 to 2016 through their control of state bodies.

Those dates roughly coincide with Silva's and Ms Rousseff's tenures in office.

Silva was elected in 2002 and Ms Rousseff took over after his second term. She was impeached and removed from office for illegally managing the federal budget in 2016.

The charges are part of a huge corruption investigation into a scheme to inflate state contracts in order to pay bribes to politicians.

The probe has already netted dozens of executives and senior politicians. Now the justice handling the probe will decide whether to accept the indictment.

Silva, who is commonly known as Lula, is already facing several charges and has been sentenced to nine and a half years in prison in one case. He is appealing.

He has maintained that the charges against him are politically motivated, as has Ms Rousseff.

According to Mr Janot, "Lula, from 2002 until May 2016, was an important leader" of the alleged criminal organisation, both because of the way the bribery scheme was organised and because as president he had the power to name people to public posts.

Mr Janot said Silva maintained this power even after he left office because of his influence over Ms Rousseff.

The indictment also says members of two other Brazilian parties - President Michel Temer's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party and the Progressive Party - were part of the criminal organisation.

Mr Janot said after Ms Rousseff left office and Mr Temer took over the presidency, members of his party in Congress took over the leadership role of the conspiracy.

AP

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