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  HOME | Brazil (Click here for more)

Brazil Presidentís Lead Attorney in Corruption Case Withdraws

BRASILIA Ė Brazilian President Michel Temerís lead defense attorney said on Friday he was stepping aside from the head of stateís corruption case due to a conflict of interest.

Antonio Claudio Mariz, a personal friend of Temerís for several decades, decided to withdraw from the case a day after the Supreme Court sent new graft charges against the president to the lower house of Congress.

Lawmakers in that chamber will now vote whether or not to authorize a Supreme Court trial of the sitting president.

In statements to the Globo television channel, Mariz said his prior work defending Lucio Funaro, a now-jailed financial operator who has accused Temer of engaging in corrupt practices before he became head of state last year, constituted a conflict of interest.

He said he would stay on as a legal adviser to Temer but could no longer head up his defense team.

Temer now must name a new attorney to represent him in hearings due to start next week in the Chamber of Deputies, where a two-thirds majority would have to vote to authorize a trial, a bar considered impossibly high because of the presidentís numerous allies in the lower house.

Temer has been accused by the Attorney Generalís Office of obstruction of justice and criminal conspiracy, allegations based on plea-deal testimony by the owners of Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS.

The charges brought by the AGís office also are based on testimony by Funaro.

In August, a majority of the Chamber of Deputies voted not to put Temer on trial for allegedly receiving bribes from JBS dating back to 2010.

 

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