Brazil judge overseeing Petrobras corruption probe dies in plane crash

Brazil judge overseeing Petrobras corruption probe dies in plane crash

Brasilia, Jan 20: A Supreme Court Justice presiding over Brazils biggest corruption case has died after the plane carrying him crashed into the sea off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, according to local authorities.

The body of Justice Teori Zavascki was recovered from the wreckage near the coastal town of Paraty, state firefighters said, CNN reported on Friday.

Zavascki was among four people on board the Hawker Beechcraft twin-prop aircraft that went down on Thursday.

Two other bodies that were not yet identified were also found at the crash scene.

The death was confirmed via Facebook by the 68-year-old judge’s son Francisco Prehn Zavascki.

“Dear friends, we just received the confirmation that my father passed away! Thank you all for your support,” Prehn Zavascki posted.

Teori Zavascki’s plane had left Sao Paulo’s Campo de Marte airport around 1 p.m. Less than one hour later, the plane crashed.

The cause is under investigation. Navy vessels, fishing boats and personnel from the army and fire department were searching the area and trying to salvage the wreckage, the Guardian said.

According to the Brazilian National Air Force, the plane was owned by hotel mogul Carlos Alberto Filgueiras.

The late judge, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Dilma Rousseff in 2012, was in charge of the probe known as Lava Jato, or Car Wash, the massive kickback and corruption scheme involving many of Brazil’s biggest companies, including state-run oil giant Petrobras.

Zavascki has played a crucial role in the inquiry that has implicated scores of politicians – including the current and former Presidents Michel Temer and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and several dozen other prominent politicians – and resulted in the jailing of the former head of the lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha.

In recent days, the judge had been reviewing evidence from senior executives at Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company, which could result in many more arrests of powerful figures in the Congress and the business community.

The timing of the crash has prompted speculation that the judge had fallen victim to foul play.