Brazil Supreme Court Justice Presiding Over Carwash Corruption Scandal Dies In Plane Crash

Update: as feared, the Supreme Court Justice has died. Reuters with the update:

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki was killed in a plane crash on Thursday, his son said, raising doubt over who will take over his blockbuster graft investigation into dozens of politicians.

 

Rescuers found three bodies in the wreckage of the small, twin-prop plane that crashed off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state amid heavy rains, according to firefighters. "Dear friends, we have just received confirmation that our dad died! Thank you all for your thoughts," his son, Francisco Prehn Zavascki, said on his Facebook page.

 

A judicial source earlier told Reuters that Zavascki was on board the aircraft.

 

Zavascki had been reviewing explosive testimony from dozens of executives at engineering group Odebrecht that has been expected to implicate hundreds of politicians in the biggest corruption case in Brazil's history.

 

The dual propeller Hawker Beechcraft C90GT carrying Zavascki left a Sao Paulo airport around 1 p.m. local time (1500 GMT) and crashed into the sea about 80 minutes later near the town of Paraty,  which was the plane's destination, according to air force and civil aviation authorities.

 

The plane belonged to luxury hotel group Emiliano, according to civil aviation authority ANAC. There was no information provided on the identity of the two other bodies retrieved.

 

The investigation led by Zavascki, involving at least 6.4 billion reais ($2.0 billion) in bribes for contracts with state-run enterprises, has led to the jailing of dozens of senior executives and threatens to batter the ruling coalition of President Michel Temer.

 

Under Supreme Court rules, Zavascki's case load would normally fall to the justice named by Temer to replace him, but an exception can be made for urgent matters, according to a court representative.

Accident or political murder?

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Has Brazil devolved to political assassinations? Perhaps, for now there is little information aside from the news which hit Bloomberg moments ago that a Brazilian Supreme Court Justice, Teori Zavascki, who has presided over Operation Carwash, a massive corruption probe, is on the list of passengers of the crashed jet..

As Reuters reports, a plane carrying Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki, who is overseeing a blockbuster graft investigation into dozens of politicians, crashed into the sea off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state on Thursday, his son said. The small plane left Sao Paulo and crashed near the tourist town of Paraty, air force and civil aviation sources said.

A press representative for the Supreme Court had earlier said Zavascki was on the passenger list for the flight, but could not confirm he was onboard.

His son, Francisco Prehn Zavascki, confirmed on his Facebook page that the judge was on the plane, and called for prayers for a miracle that he may have survived. A judicial source had earlier told Reuters that Zavascki was onboard the aircraft. Rescuers found three dead bodies in the wreckage of the plane crash, according to a spokesman for firefighters. Brazil's civil aviation authority ANAC said the Hawker Beechcraft twin-prop plane, model C90GT, had a capacity for a maximum of seven passengers.

Zavascki has been reviewing highly anticipated testimony from dozens of executives at engineering group Odebrecht, which is expected to implicate hundreds of politicians in the biggest corruption case in Brazil's history.

The sprawling investigation, involving at least 6.4 billion reais ($2.0 billion) in bribes for contracts with state-run enterprises, has charged 200 people and convicted more than 80 executives and politicians.

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