Written by Reuters
26 Mar, 2019 | 8:13 am
Reuters – Brazil’s former president Michel Temer returned to his Sao Paulo home on Monday (March 25), hours after a judge released him from jail following his high-profile arrest on graft charges last week, which marked a fresh landmark in the country’s battle against political corruption.
Federal prosecutors have accused Temer, who was president from 2016 to 2018, of leading a “criminal organisation” that had received or arranged for up to 1.8 billion reais ($472 million) in bribes through various kickback schemes.
He has denied any wrongdoing and his lawyers appealed for his release, arguing that he could be tried while free. He left the federal police station where he had been held in downtown Rio de Janeiro on Monday evening to cries of “thief” from various protesters.
Judge Ivan Athie of the TRF-2 federal appeals court said in his ruling that the evidence provided by investigators did not justify the “preventive” jailing of Temer and seven other defendants, including former minister Wellington Moreira Franco.
The federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would appeal the judge’s decision, and hoped its request would be heard by the full bench of the appeals court on Wednesday.
Brazil’s sweeping “Car Wash” probe has uncovered what U.S. prosecutors called the world’s largest graft scheme, starting with political bribery involving state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA and spreading to other sectors and public works.
Over 150 powerful politicians and businessmen have been convicted in connection to the investigation since 2014, which has reshaped the country’s political and business landscapes.
Temer is the second former president to be arrested in the anti-corruption push. Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is in jail serving over 12 years for a corruption conviction.
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