The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Brazil's Congress, voted 263 to 227 on Wednesday (Aug. 2) to drop corruption charges against President Michel Temer. There were two abstentions and 19 absences. The opposition needed 342 votes to reject a committee report that recommended dismissal of the charges—this would have sent the case to proceed before the Supreme Court.
With the result of yesterday's voting, the case against the president will be suspended and can only be examined after Temer steps down from office.
On June 26, Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot filed corruption charges against Temer with the Supreme Court, based on plea bargain evidence given by meatpacking tycoon Joesley Batista, owner of JBS group. It was the first time a Brazilian president has been investigated while in office.
Three days after the charges were filed, Chief Supreme Court Justice Carmen Lúcia submitted them to the Speaker of the House, Rodrigo Maia, asking him to authorize the top court to investigate the president.
Temer has been accused of taking advantage of his position as Brazil's president and received kickbacks of $160,000 from his former aide, Rodrigo Rocha Loures, offered by Joesley Batista.
Under Brazilian Constitution, an investigation of a sitting President of the Republic must be authorized by the Chamber of Deputies to proceed.
The charges were preliminarily examined by the house committee on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJ). At the committee stage, the first reporter on the case, Deputy Sergio Zveiter—a member of Temer's PMDB party—recommended authorizing the investigation. Zveiter's opinion was rejected by a majority of the committee members. Subsequently, a replacement opinion drafted by Paulo Abi-Ackel, a member of the pro-government PSDB party, recommended dropping the case.
The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies will officially report the dismissal to the Supreme Court this Thursday (3).
*With additional reporting by Débora Brito.
Translated by Mayra Borges
Fonte: Chamber of Deputies rejects charges against Brazil's President Michel Temer