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Brazilian electoral court extends President Temer's campaign abuse trial

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Brazilian electoral court extends President Temer's campaign abuse trial

Brazil's Superior Electoral Tribunal, or TSE, said on June 7 it was extending its trial into allegations that President Michel Temer and former President Dilma Rousseff abused their political and economic power in the 2014 presidential elections while they were running mates.

The trial will extend several days as the court argues over the admission of newer evidence regarding charges that Temer and Rousseff received illegal funding during their election campaign from funds tied to the corruption scheme at oil company Petrobras. Both politicians deny the accustions, and Temer could lose his presidency if found guilty.

The TSE was originally scheduled to conclude the trial on June 8, but the previous day's session was marked by clashes between the rapporteur Herman Benjamin and Gilmar Mendes, president of the court, over inclusion of evidence originating from the country's recent Lava Jato and Odebrecht corruption probes.

The trial will be extended to include nine additional sessions that will run through June 10, the court said in a statement.

While Benjamin is expected to vote for revocation of Temer's mandate, the final decision requires a majority of four votes from the seven judges of the court.

"The court is not clearly divided into ideological lines, and the final ruling is likely to be based on technical aspects as well as considerations of political stability," Thomaz Favaro, an associate director at the Brazilian consultancy firm Control Risk, said in a June 7 email that S&P Global Market Intelligence received.

"If Temer is removed, lower house speaker Rodrigo Maia would take office and has 30 days to call indirect elections. Despite demands for a direct election, this would require Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to allow it – an unlikely move at the moment," Favaro added.

Both politicians have denied the allegations and the TSE's decision could be appealed by Temer if he is found guilty. Rousseff was impeached in 2016 after being found guilty of breaking budgetary laws.