Brazil's jailed ex-speaker submits evidence of aneurism

AP News
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Posted: Feb 08, 2017 6:46 PM
Brazil's jailed ex-speaker submits evidence of aneurism

SAO PAULO (AP) — Lawyers for a former congressional leader jailed in a corruptions case submitted evidence of their client's brain aneurism Wednesday after the politician refused to undergo medical exams.

Former House of Deputies Speaker Eduardo Cunha told a court Tuesday that he has a brain aneurism, noting it was the same affliction that led to the recent death of ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's wife. An aneurism is a weakening of the wall of an artery or vein that can cause death in the event of a rupture.

But on Wednesday, Cunha "categorically refused" to undergo medical tests, according to a statement from prison official Luiz Alberto Cartaxo de Moura. He added that Cunha had complained of an aneurism in December, but said his family and lawyers had not yet provided any documentation of the problem.

On Wednesday evening, Cunha's legal team submitted several such documents to the court, including notes from doctors and copies of scans of Cunha's brain.

In one note dated Jan. 8, a doctor wrote that the aneurism was detected in 2015 but that surgery wasn't recommended. Instead, Cunha was told to have it checked regularly. Another dated Wednesday from a different doctor confirmed this diagnosis.

Cunha's announcement came the same day his lawyers filed a petition for his release on legal grounds. They didn't mention his health.

Cunha is one of the most prominent figures arrested so far as part of the massive corruption probe into a kickback scheme at the state-run oil company Petrobras. He's accused of money laundering and tax evasion related to Petrobras' 2011 purchase of an oilfield in the west African nation of Benin. He denies the charges.

Since December, Cunha has been held in a medical facility that is part of the prison system, though his transfer there did not appear linked to any medical condition. His defense team said that Federal Police initiated the transfer because of overcrowding at the prison where he was being held.