Brazil's suspended President Dilma Rousseff called as witness in corruption case: Reports

Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff talks during the demonstration "Women for Democracy" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 2, 2016.
Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff talks during the demonstration "Women for Democracy" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 2, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, suspended from office pending her impeachment trial, has been called as a defense witness for a key figure in the Petrobras corruption scandal, Brazilian media reported.

The case reportedly involves Marcelo Odebrecht, the former head of a family-owned construction company who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the mammoth corruption scandal centered on the state oil giant.

The G1 news site said late on Friday (June 10) that Ms Rousseff would be given the choice of either testifying before a judge or responding to questions in writing.

Odebrecht is alleged to have told investigators that in 2014 Ms Rousseff asked him for 12 million reals to be passed on to her top campaign strategist and to the party of her then coalition ally and vice-president Michel Temer, according to the magazine Istoe.

Mr Temer, who later turned against Ms Rousseff, took over as Brazil's acting president after Congress voted last month to try her for allegedly concealing government shortfalls using creative accounting during her 2014 reelection.

The magazine Veja separately reported that Odebrecht told the authorities that Ms Rousseff's reelection campaign was financed with undeclared funds deposited in foreign accounts.

Mr Sergio Moro, the judge handling the case, could not be reached for comment on the reports.

Along with other big Brazilian companies, Odebrecht is accused of taking part in a corrupt network that paid off Petrobras executives and top politicians in return for inflated contracts.

The oil company is estimated to have lost more than two billion dollars as a result of the sweetheart deals.