Brazil prosecutor requests Bolsonaro ‘meddling’ probe (Ld)

Brasilia, April 25 (IANS) Brazil’s top public prosecutor has requested clearance to investigate allegations of political interference by President Jair Bolsonaro, the media reported on Saturday.

It comes after Justice Minister Sergio Moro resigned on Friday, accusing the President of wanting to install a new federal police chief who would provide him with intelligence reports, reports the BBC.

Brazil’s public prosecutor Augusto Aras has now asked the Supreme Court to allow an investigation into Moro’s allegations against the President.

On Friday, Bolsonaro also fired federal police chief Mauricio Valeixo, an ally of Moro, without publishing a reason for the decision.

He was replaced by Alexandre Ramagem, chief of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency.

But Bolsonaro has denied Moro’s accusation.

In a press conference held in the government headquarters here on Friday, the President instead accused Moro of being vain and concerned only with his own political ambitions, reports Xinhua news agency.

Bolsonaro denied ever having asked for illegal access to information and said he merely wanted to have in the government people he could interact with, if necessary.

He also said that Valeixo said in the past that he wanted to leave the Federal Police, and that replacing him was overdue.

Earlier on Thursday, Moro had threatened to resign if Valeixo was removed but then said he would stay if he could choose his replacement, said the BBC reported.

After he resigned on Friday, Moro described Valeixo’s sacking “without a genuine reason” as “political interference that harms my credibility and that of the government”.

The row has thrown his administration into turmoil as it struggles to address the coronavirus crisis.

Brazil has 52,995 confirmed cases of the virus, with 3,670 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US.

Earlier this month, Bolsonaro sacked his Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Minister had advocated social distancing, which Bolsonaro has scorned.