Brazil Petrobras corruption hearing opens with shouting match

jueves 5 de marzo de 2015 12:28 GYT

By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 5 (Reuters) - The opening of a Brazilian congressional probe into alleged corruption at state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA erupted into a shouting match on Thursday when lawmakers rushed the dais and accused the probe's leader of seeking to manipulate the outcome.

The dispute highlights the rising tension in Congress two days after a federal prosecutor asked the Supreme Court to open investigations into 54 individuals for their alleged role in a giant price-fixing, bribery and political kick-back scandal at Petrobras, as the company is known.

Many of those individuals are expected to include dozens of lawmakers. The list of the political figures targeted could be made public as early as Friday.

Thursday's fracas began when Hugo Motta, president of the parliamentary-inquiry commission investigating the alleged corruption, tried to open the probe in Brasilia in a congressional meeting room.

Several angry congressmen rushed the dais and began yelling and shaking their fingers in Motta's face in a protest against his creation of investigating sub-commissions.

Motta, 25, a member of the PMDB and one of the youngest members of Congress, responded by yelling into his microphone.

"You must show me respect! You must show me respect!" Motta screamed repeatedly as he trembled angrily and shook his own finger back at his opponents. "I will not open the session like this."

The dispute centered on Motta's decision to create several sub-commissions with their own rapporteurs, a move that some suggested would undermine the power of the commission's main rapporteur, Luiz Sergio, a member of Rousseff's party, the PT.   Continuación...