Brazil prosecutor files two corruption charges against president Michel Temer

Temer smiles during a meeting with trade unionists in Brasilia, Sept 12, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

BRAZILIA (AFP) - Brazil's chief prosecutor on Thursday (Sept 14) charged President Michel Temer with obstruction of justice and leading a criminal group.

Temer was accused along with six heavyweight political allies, a statement from Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot's office said.

However, the president is widely thought to have enough support in Congress to avoid being forced to face trial.

Janot had already charged Temer with bribe-taking in June but the lower house of the legislature threw out the charge, preventing him from being tried at the Supreme Court.

Janot's statement said Temer "acted as leader of a criminal organisation" comprising senior officials from his centre-right PMDB party, who allegedly took kickbacks for contracts at public companies like oil giant Petrobras.

The alleged corruption ring operated from May 2016, when Temer first took over from leftist president Dilma Rousseff following her impeachment, Janot said.

The prosecutor's office said Temer also obstructed justice by attempting to pay bribes to prevent businessman Lucio Funaro from testifying against him under a plea deal with prosecutors.

The criminal charges must be first accepted by the Supreme Court before being sent for debate in the lower house. If the house accepts the charges and a trial starts, Temer would be suspended for 180 days, pending the result.

The charges are part of an onslaught by prosecutors against Brazil's elite in which dozens of politicians and executives have been convicted or are being charged in embezzlement and bribery schemes.

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