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Brazil's high court overturns ruling removing Federal Senate president

By Andrew V. Pestano
Brazil's high court overturns ruling removing Federal Senate president
Brazilian Sen. Renan Calheiros (R) will stand trial in the Supreme Federal Court for allegedly embezzling nearly $28,000 to pay for child support for a child from an extramarital affair. Calheiros, seen here with former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was removed from his post as president of the Federal Senate on Monday but that court decision was overturned on Wednesday. Photo courtesy Renan Calheiros

BRASILIA, Brazil, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Brazil's Supreme Federal Court has overturned its decision to suspend Renan Calheiros from his post as president of the Federal Senate.

Brazilian Justice Minister Marco Aurélio earlier this week made the decision to remove Calheiros from the post after the court took a preliminary vote to ban politicians who face corruption trials from holding posts in the presidential line of succession.

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The court voted 6-3 to allow Calheiros to remain as Senate president but supported Aurélio's decision to "prevent Renan Calheiros eventually assuming the presidency of the republic" -- meaning Calheiros will remain as leader of the Senate, but is no longer second in the presidential line of succession.

Brazil does not currently have a vice president and the leader of the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, is first in line.

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Justice Minister Luiz Fux, who voted for the measure allowing Calheiros to remain, said Brazil lives within a "institutional anomaly" in regards to the recent political crisis -- suggesting justification for the nuanced decision.

Calheiros is accused of misappropriating public funds since 2007 to pay for child support for a child he had in an extramarital affair. Calheiros was forced to resign in 2007 when the allegations first emerged, but he was re-elected in 2013 as leader of the Senate after allegations calmed.

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He is accused of paying nearly $28,000 in child support by using a construction company that billed the Senate.

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Calheiros is also being investigated separately for alleged involvement in the Petrobras corruption scandal. Dozens of Brazilian business leaders and politicians have been indicted for corruption, money laundering and racketeering over the scandal in Petrobras, a semi-public oil and gas company.

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