Brazil’s Rousseff: won’t prejudge sports minister

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said yestersday she would not prejudge her embattled sports minister and wanted a thorough investigation into corruption allegations against him.

Orlando Silva is accused of arranging up to 40 million reais ($23 million) in kickbacks from government contracts to benefit himself and the Communist Party of Brazil, which is part of Rousseff’s government.

The scandal threatens to derail Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, which it hopes will showcase its emergence as an economic power.

“It’s important to assume people’s innocence. I will look at this with immense calm and take a position to preserve not only the government but also the interests of the country,” Rousseff told reporters in Angola on the last leg of a trip to Africa.

“The government won’t judge anybody prematurely,” she told reporters when asked how she would handle the Silva case upon her return to Brazil.

The influential news magazine Veja reported over the weekend that Silva headed a scheme dating back to 2004 in which 20 per cent kickbacks were charged on public contracts to benefit him and his Communist Party.

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