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Brazilian police on Wednesday arrested Eduardo Cunha who was one of the country’s most powerful lawmakers and the architect of former president Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment until he became engulfed in corruption charges.
“We can confirm that (Cunha) was detained in Brasilia,” a police spokesman told AFP.
G1 news site published a copy of the arrest warrant issued by the office of top Brazilian anti-corruption judge, Sergio Moro.
Cunha, nicknamed Brazil’s Frank Underwood after the scheming main character in the dark US political series “House of Cards,” initiated the impeachment process that finally forced Rousseff out of office this August.
The left-wing president was found guilty of fiddling government accounts. However, she accused Cunha, from the conservative evangelical movement, of mounting a coup.
Cunha’s triumph was short-lived, as allegations of massive bribe taking and money laundering in a corruption scheme centered on state oil company Petrobras caught up with him. In September he was stripped of his congressional seat.
Cunha’s downfall signals that the Petrobras corruption probe headed by Moro is continuing to send shockwaves through Brazilian politics. Dozens of politicians and executives have already been charged or convicted with involvement in the embezzlement and bribery scheme.
Rousseff’s presidential predecessor and leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva faces three corruption-related court cases and speculation is rife that he could also be place in pre-trial detention.
Rousseff’s replacement in the presidency, former Cunha ally Michel Temer, has been battling allegations that he intends to weaken the Petrobras probe.
Several of his choices for ministerial posts have been accused of taking part in the embezzlement.
Temer says the Petrobras inquiry, dubbed Operation Car Wash, should continue.