RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - A former governor of Rio de Janeiro state will face trial on corruption and money laundering charges, a crusading anti-graft judge ruled on Friday.
Sergio Cabral, his wife and five other defendants will be tried by Judge Sergio Moro in southern Brazil.
Prosecutors last month accused Cabral of leading a criminal organization that took 224 million reais ($66 million) in bribes from construction firms in exchange for infrastructure contracts from 2007 to 2014, when he was serving as governor.
The specific charges accepted for trial Friday involve 2.7 million reais ($797,000) allegedly paid by construction firm Andrade Gutierrez to Cabral in exchange for the company winning building contracts for a petrochemical complex in Rio.
Cabral was the most powerful figure in Rio politics for the past decade, but he resigned in April 2014 in the face of anti-corruption protests targeting him, despite having nine months left in his second term.
He is the latest high-profile politician who will have to stand trial in the nearly three-year corruption probe known as operation “Car Wash,” which began by unraveling a massive political kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras .
Cabral was a close ally of former presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, the latter of whom was removed permanently from office in August on charges of illegally using money from state banks to bankroll public spending. ($1 = 3.3877 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)