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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 02:34 GMT 03:34 UK
Brazil politician faces expulsion
By Steve Kingstone
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Severino Cavalcanti, president of the Brazilian lower house, speaks during a news conference, 11 September 2005
Mr Cavalcanti says his signature on a key document was forged
One of Brazil's most senior politicians faces possible expulsion from parliament after a formal complaint by lawmakers who accuse him of corruption.

Severino Cavalcanti is accused of demanding kickbacks from a businessman who ran parliamentary restaurants.

Mr Cavalcanti, 74, denies the claim, which is the latest in a stream of corruption allegations in Brazil.

As leader of the lower house of parliament, Mr Cavalcanti is third in line to the presidency.

He is a traditionalist and a champion of parliamentary independence. But now, his colourful career may be cut short.

Lawmakers from five parties have formally called for Mr Cavalcanti's expulsion from parliament.

It is alleged that between 2002-03, he demanded and received $46,000 in kickbacks from a businessman who ran several parliamentary restaurants.

The contract for one particular restaurant was subsequently renewed. Mr Cavalcanti denies receiving bribes. He says his signature on a key document was forged and he points out that all this allegedly happened before he became leader of the house.

But his political support is draining away. The government has been lukewarm in backing him and lawmakers, already embarrassed by a parliamentary funding scandal, seem keen to make a new start.

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