Secret recording in Brazil puts Senate leader on defensive

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A secretly recorded conversation shows the head of Brazil’s Senate proposing to weaken one of the key tools prosecutors have used to trap politicians and businessmen in a sweeping corruption scandal.

The transcript published Wednesday by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper adds to widespread suspicions that top politicians are trying to stifle investigations against them.

The transcript shows Senate president Renan Calheiros suggesting to change laws so that nobody can make a plea bargain after being arrested.

Prosecutors have used such offers of lighter sentences to convince suspects to implicate high-ranking politicians and businessmen in billions of dollars of alleged bribes centered on the government’s Petrobras oil company.

Calheiros’ office issued a statement acknowledging the conversation but insisting he wasn’t trying to tamper with the Petrobras probe.

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