Ex-Brazilian Minister testifies against Bolsonaro in meddling probe

Brasilia, May 3 (IANS) Sergio Moro, Brazil's former Justice Minister, has testified against President Jair Bolsonaro in an investigation alleging the latter of political interference in the federal police.

He testified on Saturday at the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba, reports Efe news.

Moro, a former federal judge who gained international recognition by spearheading a sprawling anti-graft campaign, had resigned on April 24 protesting Bolsonaro's decision to fire Federal Police director Mauricio Valeixo, calling it “political interference” in law-enforcement investigations, reports Efe news.

The former Minister testified for eight hours in the presence of three public prosecutors appointed by Prosecutor General Augusto Aras.

The allegations by Moro had kicked up a political storm in the country, and his statement lead to Supreme Court judge Jose Celso de Mello ordering a formal investigation at the request of Aras.

The investigation will probe the allegations against Bolsonaro, who could face criminal charges such as coercion, malfeasance and obstruction of justice, but also scrutinize Moro, who might face charges of slander if found unable to prove his claims.

Moro has claimed that he had evidence incriminating Bolsonaro which he intended to hand over to the investigators.

Just after his resignation, the former judge had released a purported exchange of text messages with the President that allegedly showed his intent of changing the leadership of the Federal Police.

Bolsonaro has vehemently denied the allegations and lashed out against Moro, calling him “Judas.”

Groups supporting and opposing Bolsonaro on Saturday gathered against the police headquarters in Curitiba to hold protests, and had to be separated by the police after a tense standoff.

In the middle of the crisis, Bolsonaro named Alexandre Ramagem, the head of the intelligence agency and a family friend, as the new head of Federal Police.

However, the appointment was blocked by another Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes, due concerns over Ramagem's links to the Bolsonaro family, especially his sons Flavio and Carlos.

Bolsonaro has decided to challenge the court decision through public attorneys.



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