(Reuters) - Brazil's top prosecutor has launched a legal challenge against pardons made by President Michele Temer just before Christmas, alleging they are unconstitutional and threaten the Car Wash probe into the country's largest-ever corruption scandal.
The traditional pardons granted around Christmas are applied to all criminals meeting certain conditions, including having already served part of their sentence. But Temer drew criticism last week by broadening the rules to include those convicted of corruption-related crimes and granting more generous terms.
Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge said in a statement late on Wednesday that she is requesting an injunction to stop parts of the presidential decree from going into effect.
"The head of the executive branch does not have unlimited power to grant a pardon. In the republic, no power is unlimited," the statement said, quoting from the legal filings.
Dodge said the pardon undermines the separation of powers and would grant impunity to those guilty of graft in the Car Wash scandal.
A spokesman for Temer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Temer's decree dictates that non-violent, first-time offenders who have already served one-fifth of their sentence be pardoned, compared to one-quarter previously. The decree also eliminates prior terms that made prisoners with sentences longer than 12 years ineligible.
(Reporting by Jake SpringEditing by Chizu Nomiyama)