Brazil’s Bolsonaro defends justice minister amid criticism

June 14, 2019
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In this photo released by Brazil's Presidential Press Office, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, right, and Justice Minister Sergio Moro attend a military ceremony in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Moro has met with President Jair Bolsonaro, two days after press reports accused him of allegedly coordinating with prosecutors when he was a judge. (Marcos Correa/Brazil's Presidential Press Office via PA)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro offered words of support Thursday for his justice minister, who is accused of improperly coordinating with prosecutors when he was an anti-corruption judge.

Bolsonaro said on the sidelines of an event in the capital of Brasilia that Justice Minister Sergio Moro had revealed the “promiscuity” of power and corruption — an accomplishment which had “no price.”

It is the first time that Bolsonaro has addressed the issue since online news site The Intercept on Sunday published leaked documents and messages allegedly showing that Moro offered guidance to prosecutors of the sprawling “Car Wash” probe. It published another article Wednesday in which federal prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol purportedly tells Moro that the probe can count on the support of Supreme Federal Court Justice Luis Fux.

The investigation eventually led to the jailing of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, preventing him from running in October’s presidential election.

Moro and prosecutors deny any wrongdoing and say their cellphones were hacked. But the Brazilian Bar Association has called for the suspension of the minister and others pending an inquiry.

The Supreme Federal Court was not immediately available to respond to a request for comment.

In an interview recorded Wednesday in Curitibia, in the federal police headquarters where da Silva has been held since April 7, 2018, and aired on Thursday, Brazil’s former president said the leaked communications between the members of the Car Wash task force and then-judge Moro demonstrate what he has been saying all along.

“I take advantage now to tell you that I’m happy because the country is finally going to know the truth. I always said that Moro is a liar,” da Silva said. “I think the mask will fall. I don’t know what is going to happen, but let me tell you that right now I am calmer than Moro is.”

Launched in 2014, Car Wash has looked into billions of dollars in contracts with oil-giant Petrobras and ended the careers of some of the most prominent business and political figures in the South American nation.

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