RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Brazil's top prosecutor on Tuesday (May 3) asked the Supreme Court to open a probe into alleged obstruction of justice by President Dilma Rousseff, major Brazilian newspapers reported in a potentially explosive twist to the country's political crisis.
According to reports in Globo, Folha de Sao Paulo and Estadao dailies, chief prosecutor Rodrigo Janot has requested authority to open an investigation into the embattled president and also her predecessor and key political ally Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Officials could not immediately be reached to confirm the reports.
Rousseff – who could face the start of an impeachment trial on separate charges as early as next week – allegedly colluded with Lula to obstruct a judge leading a huge investigation into corruption at state oil company Petrobras by top politicians and executives, Janot was quoted as stating.
Rousseff’s current attorney general, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, is also implicated.
At issue is an attempt by Rousseff to name Lula, who retains broad influence despite having left office, to a post in her government. Rousseff said she wanted him to lead her defence against impeachment.
But prosecutors, who wire-tapped the president’s phone conversation with Lula, said the appointment aimed to obtain ministerial immunity for the ex-president.
Lula, who is fighting corruption charges related to the Petrobras scheme, risks being prosecuted by the main investigating team led by Judge Sergio Moro. However, if he were in the government, he would gain limited immunity, with only the Supreme Court able to handle his case.
The Supreme Court is now preparing to rule on whether he can take his post. Janot’s filing, if confirmed, would ramp up pressure on Lula and Rousseff.
Prosecutors looking into the controversy have decided that Lula’s nomination was part of a “scenario” involving several attempts to obstruct Moro’s investigation into the Petrobras scheme, Estadao newspaper reported.
Rousseff is separately accused in Congress of having illegally manipulated government budget accounts and could be suspended from office next week by the Senate so that a trial can get underway.