BRASILIA, Brazil, March 16 (UPI) -- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff named former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva her chief of staff, effectively shielding him from federal prosecution over corruption.
Only the Brazilian Supreme Court can try presidential Cabinet members for crimes. A federal judge has been investigating a massive corruption scandal and Lula, who served as president of Brazil from 2002 until 2010, was questioned earlier this month over allegations of money laundering in deals with construction companies.
Prosecutors have filed money laundering and fraud charges against Lula, which a judge has yet to accept. He has denied the charges, alleging the accusations are politically motivated.
Jaques Wagner, Rousseff's chief of staff, ceded his post after a four-hour meeting between Lula and Rousseff on Tuesday.
Lula, who was Rousseff's political mentor and who handpicked her as his successor, is expected to lead the Rousseff administration's battle against congressional impeachment that began over allegations Rousseff manipulated Brazil's account finances to hide a growing deficit.
Millions of Brazilians have taken to the streets in protest demanding Rousseff's impeachment or resignation.