Thursday, December 2

Brazilian Senators Support Criminal Charges of Jair Bolsonaro for Covid Crisis | Brazil


A Brazilian Senate committee recommended that President Jair Bolsonaro face a series of criminal charges for actions and omissions related to the second highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in the world.

Tuesday’s 7-4 vote was the culmination of a six-month committee investigation into the government’s handling of the pandemic. It formally approved a report calling on prosecutors to try Bolsonaro on charges ranging from charlatanism and incitement to crime to misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity, and in doing so, they hold him responsible for many of the more than 600,000 deaths of Covid-19 in Brazil.

The president has denied wrongdoing, and the decision on whether to bring most of the charges will rest with Attorney General Augusto Aras, a Bolsonaro appointee who is widely regarded as a protector. The complaint of crimes against humanity should be processed by the international criminal court.

Senator Omar Aziz, chair of the investigation, said he would deliver the recommendation to the attorney general on Wednesday morning. Aras’s office said the report will be carefully reviewed as soon as it is received.

Regardless of whether charges are filed, the report is expected to fuel criticism of the divisive president, whose approval ratings have plummeted ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign, in large part due to the huge death toll from Covid-19 in Brazil. The investigation itself has for months provided a series of damaging allegations.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has sabotaged local leaders’ restrictions on activities aimed at stopping the spread of the virus, saying the economy must continue to function so that the poor do not suffer worse difficulties. He has also insistently promoted an anti-malaria drug long after extensive testing showed it to be ineffective against Covid-19, gathered crowds without wearing masks, and cast doubt on vaccines.

Bolsonaro has defended himself by saying that he was one of the few world leaders brave enough to challenge political correctness and global health recommendations, and that he has not been wrong in the least.

The report’s author, Senator Renan Calheiros, first introduced the nearly 1,200-page document last week. He says that by insisting on treatment with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as “practically the only government policy to combat the pandemic, Jair Bolsonaro strongly collaborated for the spread of Covid-19 in Brazilian territory” and as a result is “the main responsible for the mistakes made by the federal government during the pandemic ”.

Committee members of the so-called G7 group of senators who are not from Bolsonaro’s base agreed on most points in the Calheiros report. They met on Monday to make final adjustments to the text.

The changes include recommending positions for an additional 13 people, many of them current or former employees of the Ministry of Health, as well as the governor of the state of Amazonas. The final report recommends charges against two companies and 78 people in total, including Bolsonaro, administration officials, dozens of allies and the president’s three sons, who are politicians.

It also adds an additional violation for allegedly spreading false news following Bolsonaro’s live broadcast on social media last week, incorrectly stating that people in the UK who received two doses of vaccines are developing AIDS faster than expected. .

The report also contains recommendations for two charges of “crime of responsibility”, which are grounds for impeachment. But the Speaker of the Lower House, Arthur Lira, a staunch Bolsonaro ally, would have to vote on whether to open an impeachment process, something that is considered highly unlikely considering that Lira is currently in more than 120 applications for political trial, according to information from the legislative body. .

Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, one of the president’s sons, said the report is legally weak and politically motivated. “The intention of some senators on the inquiry committee is to cause the maximum amount of wear and tear on the president,” he told reporters.

Minutes after the investigation ended, former US President Donald Trump said in a statement that he supports the Brazilian leader.

“President Jair Bolsonaro and I have become great friends in recent years. He fights hard and loves the people of Brazil, just like I do for the people of the United States, ”Trump said. “Brazil is lucky to have a man like Jair Bolsonaro working for them. He is a great president and he will never let the people of his great country down! “

An earlier draft had recommended that the president also be charged with murder and genocide, but that was scrapped even before his presentation last week. Some committee members objected to such allegations, while others expressed concern that the bombastic claims could undermine the credibility of the report.

The final hearing of the Senate committee on the investigation on Tuesday ended with a moment of silence for victims of the virus in Brazil.


www.theguardian.com

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