Brazil’s former president Michel Temer arrested in Car Wash corruption case

Brazil’s former president was arrested on Thursday on corruption charges, making him the second ex-head of state to be detained in a five-year investigation which has shaken the country to its core.

Michel Temer, who took over from Dilma Rousseff when she was impeached in 2016, served as president until Jair Bolsonaro took over on January 1.

Mr Temer, 78, no longer has the partial immunity that helped him avoid prosecution. His arrest follows that of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, who is currently serving 12 years on a corruption conviction as part of the same investigation.

The case, known as Lava Jato or “Car Wash”, has seen over 150 powerful politicians and businessmen convicted in relation to the investigation, which has reshaped the country’s political and business landscapes.

Mr Temer is accused by prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro of being the leader of a "criminal organisation" that diverted 1.8 billion Reais (£362 million) from the construction of the Angra nuclear power plant complex, on the Rio de Janeiro coast.

They allege that construction company Engevix paid bribes to Mr Temer in exchange for a contract to build the plant.

He was detained at his home in Sao Paulo, and Brazilian television live-streamed his transfer from the city to the airport, where he was believed to be en route to Rio.

Judge Marcelo Breitas issued an arrest order for Mr Temer as well as Moreira Franco, a former minister and close ally of Mr Temer, and eight others.

Mr Temer’s spokesman declined to comment, but the Brazilian Democratic Movement party, which he was part of, called the arrest "haphazard."

"The party hopes that the Justice Department re-establishes individual liberties and the presumption of innocence," the party said.

Mr Temer’s arrest comes after the attorney general attempted three times to charge him, but failed due to Congress protecting him and failing to lift his immunity.

On leaving office, Mr Temer was asked about potential cases against him but said he was not worried and did not believe he would be arrested.

"I’m calm. I am not the least bit worried," he said.

"Those (charges) are such absurd things that a more objective and less passionate mind will see that and will say, ‘those allegations are irrelevant.’"