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Brazil prosecutor opposes Lula cabinet appointment

Friday, April 8, 2016 - 08:45

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Brazil's chief prosecutor recommended Thursday the Supreme Court annul President Dilma Rousseff's appointment of her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as cabinet chief, concluding it was an attempt to avoid his arrest.

[BRASÍLIA] Brazil's chief prosecutor recommended Thursday the Supreme Court annul President Dilma Rousseff's appointment of her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as cabinet chief, concluding it was an attempt to avoid his arrest.

"There is sufficient evidence to state that there was a deviation of purpose in the presidential decree" naming Mr Lula as chief of staff, Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot said in a report filed with the court.

Mr Lula's controversial appointment, which has been temporarily blocked by a Supreme Court judge, would give the former president ministerial immunity from trial in criminal court on charges related to a massive corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras.

The full court must now rule whether he can take up the job.

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Mr Lula, a left-wing icon and founder of the ruling Workers' Party, is accused of accepting a luxury condo and a country home as bribes from construction companies caught up in a multibillion-dollar graft scandal that has upended Brazilian politics.

The day before Ms Rousseff swore him in as her chief of staff, Sergio Moro, the crusading judge leading the Petrobras probe, released a wire-tapped phone call in which the president appeared to indicate the appointment was aimed at giving Lula ministerial immunity from prosecutors who have requested his arrest.

In the phone call, Ms Rousseff tells Mr Lula she is sending him papers making his appointment official, to be used only "if necessary." Janot said Lula's nomination was aimed at "disrupting the progress of the criminal investigations in the Car Wash case," the name of the Petrobras probe.

The latest twist in the saga comes as Ms Rousseff faces impeachment proceedings in Congress over separate accusations of manipulating the government's books to mask budget shortfalls during her 2014 re-election campaign.

AFP

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