Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil's Lula faces trial linked to Petrobras scandal

Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on April 25, 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has denied any wrongdoing

Former President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is to go on trial for obstruction of justice in a case related to the scandal at state oil firm Petrobras, court documents show.

The multi-billion-dollar affair has already seen dozens of politicians and officials arrested.

Lula, with six others, is accused of hampering Operation Car Wash, the investigation into the scandal.

Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011, has denied any wrongdoing.

The date for the trial has not yet been set.

Those also charged on Friday include former senator Delcidio Amaral and investment banker Andre Esteves.

They have been accused of trying to prevent former Petrobras director Nestor Cervero from testifying in a plea bargain deal.

Cervero was jailed for being the mastermind of the Petrobras scandal.

It is understood that the accusation against Lula is a result of a plea bargain testimony by Mr Amaral.

In May, Brazil's Attorney General Rodrigo Janot accused the former president of playing a key role in the Petrobras case, which is estimated to have cost the company more than $2bn (£1.5bn).

He said the corruption could not have taken place without Lula's participation.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ex-senator Delcidio Amaral was the former government's leader in the upper house of Congress.

Lula made a comeback to frontline Brazilian politics in March, when President Dilma Rousseff nominated him as her chief of staff.

But a judge then suspended his nomination saying it had been aimed at protecting him from possible prosecution.

Operation Car Wash was launched two years ago by prosecutors focusing initially on money laundering.

They say that their investigations have since uncovered a complex corruption scheme at Petrobras.

Prosecutors allege the scandal was used to finance the electoral campaigns of senior Brazilian politicians.

Several politicians and Petrobras executives have been arrested and sentenced.

Some of them have agreed to testify against other suspects in exchange for more lenient sentences, taking the investigation to a new level.

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