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LATIN AMERICA | 18-04-2018 12:12

Former Brazil presidential candidate Aécio Neves faces corruption trial

Supreme Court justices rule Neves should be tried for allegedly accepting US$588,000 from meat industry tycoon Joesley Batista.

Aécio Neves, the senator who narrowly lost Brazil's 2014 presidential election, will face trial for corruption and obstruction of justice, Brazil's top court has decided.

A panel of Supreme Court justices ruled Neves would be tried for allegedly accepting two million reais (US$588,000) from meat industry tycoon Joesley Batista. The money was allegedly paid in return for favourable legislation in Congress.

Neves, from the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), denies the charges, which stem from Batista's plea deal with prosecutors. He is also charged with trying to hinder the anti-graft probe.

His trial means that charges based on corruption allegations have now successfully been brought against leading figures from all three major parties in Brazil.

Ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who founded the Workers' Party (PT), was jailed this month after being convicted of accepting an apartment as a bribe.

Several major figures from the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB, formerly known as the PMDB) have also been prosecuted, while President Michel Temer, who is a member of it, faces two corruption charges.

Neves, narrowly beaten to the presidency by Dilma Rousseff from the Workers' Party, said he and his sister and cousin would be cleared.

"I did nothing wrong. My priority is to present the court with all the facts that show the complete correctness of my and my relatives' actions," he said in a statement.

Grandson of a president and a former governor of Minas Gerais state, Neves has long been a heavyweight in Brazilian politics and a leader of opposition to the Workers' Party.

Brazilian politicians have been under heavy fire from an unprecedented anti-graft campaign led by prosecutors with so-called operation Lava Jato ("Car Wash"), which over the last four years has uncovered systemic bribery and embezzlement throughout the political and business elite.

- AFP

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