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Brazilian Supreme Court Judge Fatally Injured In Aircraft Accident

Had Been Investigating A Serious Graft Case Involving Odebrecht

A justice of the Brazilian Supreme Court was among those fatally injured Thursday when the Beechcraft C90GT went down in the ocean off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

The airplane went down in the water at around 1500 GMT about 2 miles from its destination airport in heavy rain, according to Brazilian authorities. Reuters reports that a witness on a boat near the accident scene said the visibility was near zero due to the rain, but that the plane could be seen banking sharply and descending during its approach. The right wing clipped the surface, causing the aircraft to impact the water, according to the witness.

A woman inside the plane was still alive, according to the witness, and he and his wife tried to open the door to get her out, but they were unsuccessful and she sank with the aircraft. Three bodies were recovered from the wreckage.

The justice, Teori Zavascki, had been overseeing an investigation involving executives from engineering group Odebrecht, and could implicate many powerful politicians, according to the report. The probe is focused on a kickback scandal centering on Petrobras, the state-run oil company, and other concerns.

It is unclear who will take over the investigation. Reuters reports that normally it would fall to President Michel Temer to appoint a justice to continue the probe, but several of Temer's ministers have been implicated in the case, and the President himself has been named by one Odebrecht executive in plea bargain testimony leaked to the press.

(Image from file. Not accident airplane)



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