Brazil’s former President Michel Temer was reportedly arrested on Thursday as part of the sweeping anti-corruption investigation known as “Car Wash”.
Local media reported the former president was arrested in his house in Sao Paulo and flown to the Federal Police office in Rio de Janeiro.
A spokeswoman for the Prosecutors Office in Rio told The Associated Press that Temer’s arrest follows an arrest warrant by Judge Marcelo Breitas. Breitas is a Rio judge overseeing part of a sprawling corruption probe involving kickbacks to politicians and public officials.
“I’m certain [Temer’s] lawyers will file a habeas corpus request so he can continue to answer to authorities in freedom,” lawyer Luiz Felipe Panelli told Al Jazeera.
Panelli said Judge Breitas could have decided to keep Temer under house arrest or other forms of custody.
“This type of arrest only happens when there’s eminent danger the suspect can flee or that he is still committing the crime,” he added.
Temer, a longtime legislator, was hit with corruption charges during his presidency, regarding management contracts of several ports in Sao Paulo. At the time the charges were blocked by allies in the lower house Congress. The legislative body must authorise charges against a sitting president.
Temer has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Luiz Flavio Gomes, member of Commission for the Constitution, Justice and Citizenship and a federal deputy, said Temer’s arrest by the Rio de Janeiro Federal Police may indicate the charges stem from a new investigation.
“We suspect this means there is a new investigation against him in Rio, because this is separate from the existing enquiries in Brasilia,” Gomes told Al Jazeera. “So, if the judge is right, police must have found new evidence in Rio”.
Since launching in March 2014, the Car Wash investigation has led to the jailing of top businessmen and politicians, including ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Local media also reported on Thursday the Federal Police issued an arrest warrant for Moreira Franco, the former minister for mines and energy.
With additional reporting by Mia Alberti in Sao Paulo.