RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Former Brazilian President Michel Temer was arrested on Thursday on corruption charges, a dramatic development in a sprawling corruption probe that has roiled Brazil has showed no sign of slowing.
In a statement, the Prosecutors Office in Rio de Janeiro said that Judge Marcelo Breitas had issued an arrest order for Temer and Moreira Franco, a former minister and close ally of Temer.
The statement did not detail the charges against the two and a spokeswoman at the Prosecutors Office also declined to specify the charges.
Globo Television showed images of the former president being accompanied by police in Sao Paulo, where Temer lives. Helicopter images showed Temer getting out of a police convoy at an airport, presumably to be brought to Rio de Janeiro and processed.
Breitas is overseeing the Rio portion of a massive corruption probe involving kickbacks to politicians and public officials. Since launching in March 2014, the so-called Car Wash investigation has led to the jailing of top businessmen and politicians, including ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
In a statement, Temer’s Brazilian Democratic Movement party called the arrest “hasty.”
“The party hopes that the Justice Department re-establishes individual liberties and the presumption of innocence,” it read.
Temer, who was vice president, came to the presidency in 2016 after President Dilma Rousseff was impeached and ousted from office for mismanaging the federal budget.
From the get-go, Temer’s administration was hit with several scandals, including some involving the president himself.
Three times, prosecutors charged Temer with corruption. Because he was a sitting president, he could only be tried if two-thirds of the lower chamber in Congress agreed. Temer twice mustered enough support in Congress to avoid prosecution and his term ended before the third case proceeded far enough for Congress to vote.
Temer left office on Jan. 1 and no longer has the partial immunity that helped him avoid prosecution.
Asked about looming cases against him in December, Temer said he wasn’t worried and did not believe he would be arrested.