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Brazilian ex-Presidents charged with obstructing justice

Brazilian ex-Presidents charged with obstructing justice

Brazil’s Prosecutor General has charged former Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff with obstruction of justice.

The charges were filed a day after the two former heads of state, both members of the left-leaning Workers’ Party (PT), were charged with conspiracy, reports Xinhua news agency.

Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot on Wednesday said the new charges were related to Rousseff’s appointment of Lula in March 2016 as minister of the presidency, a move many believed was designed to shelter Lula from an ongoing corruption investigation by granting him the protection of a cabinet-level post.

Rousseff was impeached shortly afterward by a largely conservative legislature for allegedly allowing her administration to embellish fiscal statements so that public finances appeared more robust.

The conspiracy charges, which were also brought against two former finance ministers and at least four other members of the PT, were based on allegations that those involved conspired to use the state oil giant Petrobras to their personal benefit.

Also on Wednesday, Rousseff’s former chief of staff, Antonio Palocci, testified that Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht gave the Lula Institute $1.3 million and had agreed to pay the PT $100 million.

The donation to the institute was made in cash and used to buy property in Sao Paulo, according to Palocci, who has been convicted of corruption.

Lula, still a revered figure in Brazil for his government’s welfare programmes and effective anti-poverty campaigns, is scheduled to testify before federal judge Sergio Moro, who is heading the investigations, on September 13.

Lula has already been sentenced to nine and a half years in prison on other corruption charges and an appeal is pending.

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