Brazilians Stunned By Death Of Supreme Court Justice Ahead Of “Explosive Testimony”

Cross-posted from Zero Hedge

The death of Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki who had presided over the sprawling “Carwash” corruption scandal, and who died yesterday in a freak airplane crash has sent shockwaves both around the globe and in Brazil, because while few in polite company will discuss it, it has opened the possibility of political assassinations as a means of “quieting” legal proceedings.

And as Reuters reports today, while the death of the judge will likely not derail the country’s biggest ever graft probe, it will delay it, “handing valuable breathing space to President Michel Temer” who many have accused of being even more corrupt than his predecessor.

While there is no evidence yet of “foul play”, the timing of the death is oddly coincidental, especially since the upcoming revelations could have had damaging implications for Brazil’s still relatively new president Temer.

As a reminder, Justice Zavascki was killed in a plane crash on Thursday, “just weeks before he was due to unveil explosive testimony from executives at engineering group Odebrecht SA that is expected to implicate as many as 200 politicians in a vast kickback scandal” Reuters notes.

While the Police are investigating the crash in which a small, twin-prop plane that was carrying him plunged into the sea south of Rio de Janeiro during heavy rain, it is unlikely that they will find anything damaging.

And now, thanks to the tragic delay, postponing the fallout from evidence that could incriminate powerful political figures in Temer’s coalition, and perhaps Temer himself, gives the president more time to push through reforms to generous pension and labor rules and restore business confidence in a country stuck in a two-year recession.

Temer has already lost four cabinet members to corruption allegations. Several other ministers and leaders of his PMDB party in Congress have been named in Odebrecht plea deals, raising concern about the survival of his government.

“This can give Temer more room to move ahead with his reform agenda in Congress but Zavascki’s death won’t stall or change the course of the investigations,” said Thiago de Aragao quoted by Reuters, partner at ARKO consultancy that advises corporations and banks on investment in Brazil. “It will just pause it for a while.” Temer,who has himself been named by one defendant as a recipient of illegal campaign funds, has said he will rapidly appoint a new justice who, under Supreme Court rules, would take over Zavascki’s cases.

“In the short-run, any delay works in Temer’s favor because it will put off the instability that the new accusations will bring,” said Roberto Dias, a constitutional law professor at the FGV think tank in Sao Paulo. “But it’s bad for Brazil”

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