New boss takes over Brazil’s federal police amid criticism

November 20, 2017

Brazil's newly appointed Director-General of the Federal Police, Fernando Segovia, wipes his brow during his swearing-in ceremony in Brasilia, Brazil, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. Segovia was sworn-in by unpopular Brazilian President Michel Temer, who is himself being investigated by the force. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

SAO PAULO (AP) — A new boss took over Brazil’s federal police Monday despite criticism that he would block a probe into unpopular Brazilian President Michel Temer, who is being investigated by the force.

Several Brazilian media outlets reported that Fernando Segovia’s appointment was supported by government ministers also implicated in federal police investigations.

Segovia has worked for the federal police for 22 years and said he will make the fight against corruption a priority.

In remarks made after he became chief, Segovia said that Temer “will continue to be investigated, no problem.” But he also criticized prosecutors who charged the Brazilian president this year with corruption, obstruction of justice and leading a criminal organization.

“If this investigation had been done by the federal police, it would had to have last longer,” Segovia said, adding that he thought prosecutors rushed to their findings.

The accusations against Temer are part of the sprawling corruption “Car Wash” probe that implicated scores of politicians and businessmen across Latin America and in other parts of the world. Several of those investigations will now be partly under Segovia’s control.

Segovia also said that he wants to fight crime by improving the strained relationship between the police and the country’s independent prosecutors’ office, which is investigating Temer as well.

“I will leave aside vanity and thirst for power, seeking balance and understanding in our actions in favor of the Brazilian nation. That which benefits the most from this dispute is organized crime,” he said.

Federal police and government prosecutors have raced each other to lead anti-corruption raids since the “Car Wash” probe began in Brazil more than three years ago.

But those raids have become less frequent since Temer replaced top prosecutor Rodrigo Janot, who filed the criminal charges against him, with the low-profile Raquel Dodge in September.

“I and Mrs. Dodge will try to build an agreement to work together in this moment of greater maturity for both institutions,” Segovia said. “There is consensus and I believe there is no need for an institutional fight.”

Segovia succeeds Leandro Daiello, who was appointed by former President Dilma Rousseff in 2011. Daiello announced his retirement after Temer publicly said that Segovia was the favored candidate.

Temer ignored a list of possible candidates offered by the National Association of Federal Detectives in 2016 that was topped by police force investigator Erika Marena, who helped lead the Car Wash probe but was relocated to a different unit last year.

In a statement, the association said two other possible appointees were also on the list.

“The official triple list, voted and approved by more than 1,300 police investigators, has the names of Erika Marena, Rodrigo Teixeira and Marcelo Freitas, all special class federal police investigators who won the vote of confidence by their peers to run the institution,” the statement said.

Before his appointment, Segovia was the head of the federal police unit in the northern state of Maranhao, a stronghold of former President Jose Sarney, who is also a key Temer ally. Brazilian media reported that Sarney denies having a role in Segovia’s appointment.

Brazil’s lower house of Congress decided twice this year not to force Temer to stand trial on the three charges made by Janot until he leaves office in January 2019.

Update hourly