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article imageSwedish PM testifies in court over war jets sale in Brazil

By AFP     Jun 8, 2018 in World

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven testified in court on Friday, at the request of a Brazilian judge, over a suspected corruption case in Brazil involving the sale of Swedish fighter aircraft at the expense of their French counterpart Rafale.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is being investigated for money laundering and influence peddling as prosecutors accuse him of having received 2.25 million reais ($1.04 million at the current rate).

Lula is suspected of having received the money in the purchase of Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab's Jas Gripen fighter jets through his son Luis Claudio's company to bribe Dilma Rousseff, who succeeded him as the nation's leader in 2011.

After arriving to the Stockholm district court early Friday, Lofven denied having any knowledge of bribes related to the arms deal but admitted to having promoted the sale of the Swedish aircraft before he became prime minister.

"I'm a working-class man. It's obvious that I would help a Swedish company and make sure to create jobs in Sweden," he told the daily Aftonbladet.

Lofven denied before a judge that he had met Lula and Rousseff in South Africa in December 2013 on the sidelines of a tribute paid to the late President Nelson Mandela.

He also denied knowing Mauro Marcondes, an alleged intermediary between Saab and Lula. The hearing lasted less than five minutes, according to Aftonbladet.

At the end of December 2013, Brazil ended more than a decade of negotiations and reports and chose the Swedish Gripen jets for a $4.5 billion contract at the expense of France's Rafale and the American Boeing's Super Hornet.

Brazil and Sweden inked the deal for 36 fighter jets in October 2014, a few months after Lofven became the head of state.

Saab Chairman Marcus Wallenberg and President and CEO Hakan Buskhe were also questioned in court. Both said they do not know Mauro Marcondes, according to the TT news agency.

The 72-year-old Lula, who was jailed in early April, is serving a 12-year sentence for taking an apartment as a bribe, a case he describes as politically motivated.

The former president is charged in six additional cases in which he claims he's innocent.

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