Brazil prosecutor targets politicians in Petrobras scandal

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image captionThe Petrobras case is the biggest-ever corruption scandal in Brazil

Brazil's top prosecutor has asked the Supreme Court to open 83 new investigations into politicians as part of a long-running corruption probe involving state oil giant Petrobras.

The names were mentioned in plea bargain testimony of former executives of construction firm Odebrecht, but have not been made public.

It is unclear if they include ministers in President Michel Temer's government.

The Operation Car Wash investigates overpriced contracts at Petrobras.

Supreme Court Judge Edson Fachin, in charge of the case, is due to decide whether he will accept the requests to open the investigations.

Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot also asked for the names to be made public, and that the Supreme Court send 211 other requests to lower courts.

Under Brazilian law, cabinet ministers, senators and lower house lawmakers can only be tried in the Supreme Court, where cases can take years to come to trial.

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image captionIt is not clear the list includes members of Mr Temer's cabinet

The new investigations are an escalation of the three-year-old Operation Car Wash.

The former Odebrecht employees, including its ex-chief executive Marcelo Odebrecht, signed deals with Brazilian investigators, agreeing to confess to crimes and to identify corrupt officials in exchange for shorter prison sentences.

This new chapter in the case will be a test for Mr Temer, who leads a centre-right government after leftist President Dilma Rousseff was impeached last year.

He took power promising to tackle corruption and restore fiscal discipline as Brazil faces its worst recession on record.

But he has lost several ministers following corruption allegations, and the investigations may hamper his efforts to revive the economy and restore confidence, correspondents say.

There is the suspicion that part of the money from the overcharged contracts with Petrobras was used for bribes and to pay for campaigning.

Brazil's electoral court is looking into donations to the Rousseff-Temer campaign in the 2014 election. If fraud is found, their campaign could be annulled, which means that Mr Temer would be removed from office. They both deny wrongdoing.

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