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  • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the Presidential Palace, Jan 11, 2016

    Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the Presidential Palace, Jan 11, 2016 | Photo: EFE

Published 16 March 2016

The federal judge investigating the ongoing corruption case leaked a taped conversation between President Rousseff and her predecessor.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's press office unequivocally condemned the release of a taped conversation between the president and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, which opposition politicians have seized on to back their claims that Lula's appointment as a minister was a move designed to prevent his arrest.

The statement from the Social Communication Secretariat said that they “vehemently repudiate” the release of private conversations as they constitute an “affront to rights and guarantees of the presidency of the Republic.”

Federal Judge Sergio Moro, who oversees the corruption investigation involving the state-run oil company, authorized the release of the taped conversation.

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An article by UOL said that the conversation between Rousseff and Lula took place two hours after Moro ordered an end to the wiretaps of Lula's phone.

The statement from the presidency added that “all the necessary legal and administrative measures will be taken to address the flagrant violation of the law and the constitution of the republic” committed by the person who authorized the release of the tape.

Lula's appointment as Cabinet chief was confirmed Wednesday and was known well before the leaked conversation ever took place.

Opposition lawmakers claim the appointment of Lula to the Cabinet was meant to shield Lula from prosecution. Under Brazilian law, only the Supreme Court can order the investigation, imprisonment or trial for a government minister.

In the leaked tape, President Rousseff can be heard telling Lula that she is sending him a document so that he can assume his new post but that it should only be used if necessary.

Rousseff and Lula's critics say the leaked conversation is proof his appointment as Cabinet chief was meant to shield Lula from prosecution.

The presidency denied the allegation, saying that the conversation is being deliberately misinterpreted.

In its statement, the presidency said that the document referred to in the tape was meant to be used only if Lula could not attend the swearing-in ceremony in person.

Lula has immunity from all but the Supreme Court after his nomination as Rousseff's chief of staff was announced in a special edition of the Official Gazette. State prosecutors had charged him with money laundering and fraud, and asked for his arrest.

Lula's lawyer warned the release of the recording could result in a "social convulsion."

Brazilian Republican Party will be leaving the government coalition.

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