Brazil police arrest former minister in World Cup stadium probe

Brazil police arrest former minister in World Cup stadium probe

Alves was tourism minister under President Dilma Rousseff and Temer, who assumed the country's top post previous year when Rousseff was removed for illegally managing the federal budget. It is the first time in Brazil's history that a sitting president risks could have the job taken away by the electoral court.

If Temer is eventually pushed out of the presidency by the court, or decides to resign, Chamber of Deputies Speaker Rodrigo Maia would take over for 30 days while Congress voted in a new leader to finish Temer's term, which goes through 2018.

In the meantime, the economic austerity reforms that Temer has campaigned hard to push through Congress, calling them key to rescuing Brazil's economy after two years of recession, appear to be increasingly doomed.

Judges reopened a probe into allegations that Temer received illegal campaign funding in 2014.

Brasilia is swirling with reports that Mr Janot plans to file a request for the Supreme Court to accept formal corruption and obstruction of justice charges soon, triggering a trial.

The main ally in Temer's governing coalition, the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), is waiting for the court ruling to decide whether to abandon Temer's government, which would sink his fiscal reform agenda.

Lead judge Herman Benjamin started reading his opinion towards the end of the nationally televised three-hour hearing on Tuesday evening, after presentations from prosecution and defence lawyers.

The corruption probe run by Janot is a separate issue and is being handled in the Supreme Court.

But Temer, too, has found his standing dramatically diminished by the release in May of a secretly made audio recording in which he apparently approved the payment of hush money from a meatpacking tycoon to a top politician already jailed for corruption.

Former Tourism Minister Henrique Eduardo Alves was taken into custody on allegations of corruption related to construction of a 2014 World Cup stadium in Natal.

Loures was arrested over the weekend for allegedly helping to pay off Cunha.

Chief among those is former Temer aide Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who was caught with a suitcase containing 500,000 reais ($152,000) of alleged bribe money and is now in pre-trial detention.

The President of the Court, Gilmar Mendes, on Tuesday declared the hearing open, in proceedings that could lead to the removal of embattled President Michel Temer from office, Efe news reported.

The deadline will come shortly after the beginning of an unrelated electoral court trial that could also affect Temer's ability to stay in office.

Military Police stand guard in front of a banner with text written in Portuguese that reads "Free Motherland" outside the headquarters building of the Superior Electoral Court, in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

Alves and Cunha are both also targets in an investigation into a corruption scheme at Brazil's largest mortgage lender, Caixa Economica Federal.

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