Brazil's ex-tourism minister arrested on corruption charges

Brazil's ex-tourism minister arrested on corruption charges

Brazil's ex-tourism minister arrested on corruption charges

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.

President Michel Temer and Brazil's chief prosecutor were in open warfare Monday on the eve of a court verdict that could lead to the scandal-plagued president's removal from office.

Regardless, Temer is expected to appeal and delay the process for several months.

"The TSE will decide the fate of Temer and the reforms", said Rafael Cortez, a political and economic analyst with Tendencias consultancy in Sao Paulo.

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

(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres). 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.

Temer's lawyers said the court on Monday sent them a list of 84 questions which the president had to answer in writing within 24 hours before the start of the first hearing.

Temer himself risks facing trial over other corruption allegations.

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The TSE was deciding whether abuse of power - principally the use of corrupt campaign money - fatally undermined the election in which Temer was reelected vice president along with then president Dilma Rousseff. Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes, who presides over the electoral court, described the trial that could remove his old friend as "a great learning experience".

Last month, a recording emerged that apparently captured Temer endorsing the payment of hush money to former Chamber of Deputies Speaker Eduardo Cunha, another former ally.

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.

The Supreme Court has ordered an investigation against Temer and Rocha Loures for corruption, criminal organization and obstruction of justice, triggering the worst political crisis.

The trial was expected to take at least three days, and there is no deadline for a final ruling.

The electoral court had been expected to blame Rousseff and let off Temer, but that is now unlikely due to recent plea-bargain testimony by executives of giant meatpacker JBS SA and engineering group Odebrecht who alleged they gave illegal funds to his campaign.

If he is removed from office, lower house Speaker Rodrigo Maia would take over from Temer and Congress would have 30 days to pick a caretaker to lead the country until elections in late 2018.

Rising political tensions, Temer's lawyer Gustavo Guedes on Sunday claimed that Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot was leaning on the TSE "to find the president guilty". Adding to that threat is the possibility that further suspects in the corruption scandal will strike plea bargains with prosecutors and testify against Mr Temer.

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