Defense in Brazil's Petrobras probe trying to change court
By Caroline Stauffer
SAO PAULO Nov 26 (Reuters) - Defendants in a bribery investigation involving Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras are trying to move the probe to the country's Supreme Court, which has a reputation for moving slowly and letting cases drag on for years.
Lawyers for former Petrobras officials accused of diverting company funds to political parties, as well as construction executives accused of participating in the scheme, are trying to take the case away from federal judge Sergio Moro, who has a strong record sentencing money laundering cases.
Moro has presided over the case since March, ordering dozens of arrests.
The scandal at Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, has shaken Brazil's economy and became the biggest crisis yet for President Dilma Rousseff, who was chairwoman of the company's board from 2003 to 2010.
The current jurisdiction argument centers on the involvement of politicians in the scheme.
Moro has instructed defendants not to name elected officials in the first stage of depositions. That way, he hopes to gather as much information as possible before the case goes to the Supreme Court, which under Brazilian law is the only court that can judge senior politicians, including congressmen.
Defense lawyers say the separation is impossible.
"This whole investigation involves people with special jurisdiction," said Tofic Simantob, a lawyer for Gerson Almada, the jailed vice president of construction firm Engevix. Continuación...