By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The President of Brazil, Michel Temer, stated over the weekend that he would only nominate a Supreme Court Justice to replace Justice Teori Zavascki, killed in a plane crash last week, after a new rappourter has been appointed to lead the Lava Jato (Carwash) investigations.
“Only after the rapporteur has been nominated,” President Temer said in Porto Alegre when asked by reporters after attending the wake of Justice Zavascki.
The future of the investigations into one of Brazil’s largest corruption scandals has been a major concern of Brazilian citizens and the foreign community since the accident.
Zavascki was leading the Supreme Court hearings on the investigations, including the 77 executives from Odebrecht who agreed to cooperate with the federal prosecutors in exchange for more lenient charges. According to local media the plea bargaining documents were to be ruled by Justice Zavascki in the weeks ahead.
The Brazilian Supreme Court’s rules allows for either Chief Justice Carmen Lucia Rocha to distribute Justice Zavascki’s case loads to other Justices or to pass the cases to the new Justice, nominated by the President.
There is the fear among political analysts that President Temer will choose a nominee that will be more sympathetic to politicians who have been named by those accused of wrongdoing in the Lava Jato scandal.
According to local media sources, the Odebrecht executives named dozens of politicians in their deals with federal prosecutors who benefited from bribes given by the company for contract benefits.
Temer’s nominee to Zavascki’s seat in the Supreme Court will have to be approved by Brazil’s Senate, which has already found many of its members implicated or under investigation in the Lava Jato scandal.