Brazil's ex-tourism minister arrested on corruption charges

Brazil's ex-tourism minister arrested on corruption charges

Temer's lawyers have argued that as the vice presidential candidate in 2014, he should not be held responsible for decisions of the overall ticket.

Former President Rousseff was impeached in 2016 on charges of misconduct in relation to the federal budget, with her Vice President Michel Temer replacing her after playing a key role in her removal from office.

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

Police in Brazil have arrested five people suspected of overcharging during the construction of a football stadium ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

The questions have to do with Temer's connections to a new corruption investigation filed against him following the leak of a recording in which he can be heard negotiating a bribe.

Temer cancelled a previously announced official event to watch the court session on television from the presidential palace, with several loyal ministers and congressmen for company, according to local media.

The scandals that have hit Brazil's politics at all levels had reduced the TSE almost to sideshow status, and observers expected that the court would expeditiously assign blame exclusively to Rousseff, who, like Temer, has much to lose.

Mr Alves' arrest could further increase pressure on Mr Temer, who is facing calls for his resignation after an audio tape was leaked in which the president appears to discuss paying hush money to Cunha.

Temer is being investigated for allegedly endorsing the payment of hush money to former Chamber of Deputies Speaker Eduardo Cunha, another former ally.

Judges sit in the Superior Electoral Court during the judgment phase of a trial involving allegations that the 2014 Rousseff-Temer ticket received illegal campaign financing in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, June 6, 2017. The president's lawyer Gustavo Guedes reiterated his client's statement of innocence before the court, saying: "President Michel Temer did not carry out any illegal acts".

If Temer should be forced from the presidency by the court, or chose to resign, Chamber of Deputies Speaker Rodrigo Maia would take over for 30 days while Congress voted in a new leader. Temer had 24 hours to answer the questions, but his attorneys asked for an extension Tuesday afternoon.

Police sent the questions to Temer a day before the country's top electoral court opens a hearing into supposed irregularities during the 2014 electoral campaign.

There was a heavy police presence at the election court in the capital Brasilia, with only a small protest by leftwing demonstrators outside.

Cunha is already in prison serving a 15-year sentence for corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.

Chief among those is his former aide Rodrigo Rocha Loures, who was caught with a suitcase containing 500,000 reais ($152,000) of alleged bribe money.

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.

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