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Brazil judge suspends Senate leader in blow to Prez Temer

Brazil judge suspends Senate leader in blow to Prez Temer
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A supreme court judge in Brazil has suspended the Senate’s powerful speaker, a key ally to President Michel Temer, before he goes on trial for alleged corruption.

The interim decision to strip Renan Calheiros, 61, of his duties worsens the outlook for Temer as he struggles to lift Latin America’s biggest economy out of crisis.

It also deepens the perception that the country is inextricably mired in political graft.

The suspension ordered by judge Marco Aurelio Mello has “immediate effect,” but needs to be confirmed by a majority of judges on the supreme court bench, a court official said on Monday.

An opposition group, Rede, had called for the suspension, arguing that an official in line for presidential succession – as the Senate speaker is – cannot hold his or her position while facing trial.

The supreme court last week ordered Calheiros to face trial for alleged embezzlement. He has denied accusations he used public funds to make maintenance payments to a woman with whom he had a child. 
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