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Brazil Supreme Court to rule on Temer corruption case

© POOL/AFP | Brazilian President Michel Temer, who faces corruption charges at home, meets with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the United Nations

BRASÍLIA (AFP) - 

Brazil's Supreme Court began considering Wednesday a last-ditch effort by President Michel Temer to have corruption charges against him suspended.

Temer has been charged with obstruction of justice and racketeering but says that one of the main pieces of evidence in the prosecution -- plea deal testimony from a meatpacking tycoon -- needs to be reconsidered because of irregularities.

His lawyers also argue that some of the alleged crimes took place before he was sworn in as president last year, after replacing impeached president Dilma Rousseff.

Rejection of the appeal would mean a green light for sending the charges to the lower house of deputies for consideration. A two thirds majority vote in favor would trigger Temer's suspension for 180 days and a trial in the Supreme Court.

However, Temer is confident that he has enough support in Congress to easily defeat the charges, just as he did after then prosecutor general Rodrigo Janot filed bribery charges against him in June.

Janot stepped down at the end of last week and was replaced by Raquel Dodge, whom analysts say may be less aggressive in Brazil's mammoth anti-corruption drive.

At issue now is testimony given by JBS meatpacking magnates Joesley and Wesley Batista, who confessed to conducting wide ranging bribery of politicians and testified against Temer.

Temer, the first sitting Brazilian president to face criminal charges, wants that evidence to be sent back to Dodge for further scrutiny -- something that would put any potential trial on hold.

© 2017 AFP