By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The Superior Electoral Court (TSE) in Brazil gave the green light on Monday (May 15th) for the trial which could nullify the 2014 Rousseff-Temer Presidential ticket and oust President Michel Temer from office. The trial, suspended at the beginning of April so that the defense could prepare, is expected to start in June.
The decision comes days after the Ministerio Publico (federal prosecutors’ office) sent a new opinion on the case, this time including the testimony by Rousseff’s main campaign strategist João Santana and his wife Monica Moura who stated that the two politicians received illegal campaign contributions.
Among those who have told prosecutors that they contributed much more to the Rousseff re-election campaign than the law allows, is Marcelo Odebrecht, once head of one of Brazil’s largest construction conglomerates, Odebrecht.
“Dilma (Rousseff) knew about the size of our donation, and she knew we were the ones who donated … (that we were) who made a large part of the cash payments to [marketer] João Santana. That she knew,” Odebrecht was quoted as saying in his testimony.
The company is currently entangled in one of Brazil’s largest corruption scandals, and the executive in March of 2017 told prosecutors that Rousseff knew about the illicit contributions made by the conglomerate to her re-election campaign.
If illicit contributions are proven the Rousseff-Temer ticket may be annulled which would mean that current President Michel Temer would have to step down and the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia would become interim president.
Rousseff’s campaign denies any irregularity stating that all contributions were accepted by the TSE at the end of her campaign.
It will now be up to the President of the TSE, Gilmar Mendes, to set a date for the start of the trial, which will be heard by seven judges.