Brazil's Supreme Court named a new justice on Thursday to oversee cases against politicians caught in a giant corruption probe after the previous judicial point man was killed in an airplane crash.
Justice Edson Fachin, picked to replace the late Teori Zavascki, is seen as a safe pair of hands for the sprawling probe into bribery and embezzlement from state oil company Petrobras codenamed Operation Car Wash.
The scandal has already claimed a string of high-profile figures and the Supreme Court, which hears cases involving sitting politicians, is about to look at a flood of new allegations.
Fachin promised to be effective in tackling the Petrobras saga, in which politicians took bribes from business executives to hand out inflated contracts for work with the oil company. Much of the bribe money was funneled into political party campaign funds.
Fachin recognizes the importance of his new duties and reiterates his promise to perform his duties with prudence, speed, responsibility and transparency, his office said in a statement.
Silvia Batini, a prosecutor and law professor said that Fachin would likely keep Car Wash on a steady path, allaying fears in some quarters that the judicial upheaval could derail the process.
He's the court member closest in profile to Zavascki, technically speaking. In terms of the rhythm of dealing with the case, we can expect a certain continuity, Batini said.
The Supreme Court's workload has grown with the decision to accept mass plea bargains negotiated by prosecutors with scores of executives from the Odebrecht construction firm, one of the main players in the embezzlement scheme.
Zavascki's sudden death shocked the Brazilian political world, but despite claims by the judge's son that the crash was too much of a coincidence, no evidence of foul play has emerged.