Source AP ©

Brazil legislative commission to decide Renan Calheiros' fate

A legislative commission will expel the leader of Brazil's Senate, long caught up in corruption allegations.

Passed by a 17 to 3 vote by the Constitution and Justice Commission, the measure to oust Renan Calheiros as Senate president now goes to the full Senate for a vote expected next week.

Calheiros has been on a leave of absence since October, after lawmakers threatened to boycott sessions he presided over. He denies allegations he used third parties to illegally acquire two radio stations and a newspaper in his home state of Alagoas.

Calheiros survived an earlier vote on his fate, when he was cleared of allegations of accepting some US$8,000 (5,400 EUR) a month from a construction company in exchange for helping it win government contracts. Both Calheiros and the company denied any wrongdoing.

But that case was decided by a tight margin in a secret vote, and the upcoming decision will be by open vote - meaning that lawmakers' positions will be subject to public scrutiny.

Faced with similar allegations, past Senate presidents have opted to resign, thereby avoiding being stripped of the right to run for re-election for eight years.