Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil ex-leader Lula's graft probe hearing suspended

View of Guaruja, Sao Paulo Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The probe centres on a luxury penthouse in the resort of Guaruja, estimated to be worth up to $550,000

A prosecutor in Brazil has temporarily suspended a hearing at which ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was due to be questioned over corruption allegations.

The suspension follows an appeal by a lawmaker for Lula's Workers' Party.

The MP argued that the prosecutor who called for the ex-president to testify had been "procedurally unfair".

Lula, who denies the corruption allegations, had been scheduled to appear at the hearing on Wednesday.

But late on Tuesday, a member of the National Prosecutors Council accepted the appeal based on alleged procedural errors.

The suspension will be in force until the council further examines the appeal in a general session.

Luxury apartment

Public prosecutors were going to question the former president about allegations of money laundering connected to property transactions.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Lula was Brazil's president from 2003 to 2011, and reports say he may run for office again in 2018

Lula is facing accusations that he concealed the ownership of a beachfront apartment in the resort of Guaruja.

The three-storey penthouse south-west of Sao Paulo is estimated to be worth up to $550,000 (£385,000).

It was reportedly renovated for former President Lula's family by the construction firm OAS.

Lawyers for Lula said that while the former president's wife was given the option to buy the flat, they never purchased it.

It is now owned by OAS, which has been linked to a corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras.

The BBC's Julia Carneiro in Rio de Janeiro reports that Lula is facing a wave of accusations that he used his influence to obtain favours.

But Lula's supporters say the attacks on him are aimed at tarnishing his reputation, amid rumours that he may run for office again in 2018.

He was Brazil's president from 2003 to 2011 and was succeeded in office by his political protege, Dilma Rousseff.

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