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Brazil's top court reinstates Senate leader facing corruption trial

Andressa Anholete, AFP | Brazil's Senate president Renan Calheiros during the vote to impeach Dilma Rousseff, at the Senate in Brasilia, on August 31, 2016.

Brazil's top court reinstated the head of the Senate on Wednesday after one of its members suspended the lawmaker from office and opened an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

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By 6 votes to 3, the full Supreme Federal Tribunal put Sen. Renan Calheiros back on his job one day after the key ally of President Michel Temer refused to abide by a decision made by Justice Marco Aurelio Mello.

However, the full court decision stops Calheiros from being in line for the presidency while he stands trial on corruption charges in one of 12 suits against him.

Now if Temer is unable to perform his job or travels outside Brazil, he will be substituted initially by the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Rodrigo Maia. In case Maia is in the same position, Calheiros will be skipped and Chief-Justice Carmen Lucia would take over.

Calheiros and the board of Brazil's Senate on Tuesday published a letter refusing to recognize the decision.

Sen. Jorge Viana of the Worker's Party would take over if Calheiros was permanently removed. Viana is an adversary of Temer and an ally of impeached former President Dilma Rousseff.

If Calheiros were permanently removed it would be a severe blow to Temer, who expects to pass through Congress a series of belt-tightening measures in December.

(AP)

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