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Rio de Janeiro's governor removed from office over graft investigations

Credit: REUTERS/PILAR OLIVARES

Rio de Janeiro's state governor Wilson Witzel has been temporarily removed from power by the Superior Court of Justice over alleged graft in the purchase of medical supplies and services to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, Brazilian prosecutors said in a statement.

BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Rio de Janeiro's state governor Wilson Witzel has been temporarily removed from power by the Superior Court of Justice over alleged graft in the purchase of medical supplies and services to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, Brazilian prosecutors said in a statement.

Witzel, who will be suspended from office for 180 days, is also facing impeachment proceedings over graft investigations.

In a statement, Witzel's lawyers said they were surprised by the court's decision and awaiting documents detailing the accusations against him.

The alleged scheme, according to the prosecutors, was using non-governmental organizations (NGOs) hired to fight diseases, such as COVID-19, to embezzle money for politicians.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu, in Brasilia, and Rodrigo Viga Gaier, in Rio; Writing by Carolina Mandl, in Sao Paulo; Editing by Alex Richardson)

((carolina.mandl@thomsonreuters.com; +55 11 5644 7703; +55 11 97116-3806;))

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