The 66-year-old leader quickly dismissed the charges Wednesday, insisting he was “not guilty of anything.”
More than 600,000 people in Brazil have died from COVID-19, the second largest death toll in the world after the United States.
The decision to prosecute the charges will depend on the Attorney General of Brazil, appointed by Bolsonaro and ally.
Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed the threat of COVID-19 and touted misinformation and unproven treatments while ignoring international health guidelines on mask use and public activity.
The 11-member Senate panel examined whether its actions caused many deaths from COVID-19 in Brazil.
In a nearly 1,200-page report, the committee called for Bolsonaro to be indicted on charges ranging from quackery and incitement to crime to embezzlement of public funds and crimes against humanity.
By emphasizing so-called early treatment drugs like the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as “virtually the only government policy to fight the pandemic,” the report states that “Jair Bolsonaro has collaborated strongly in the spread of COVID- 19 on Brazilian territory and, as such, proved to be the main culprit for the mistakes made by the federal government during the pandemic. “
Bolsonaro reste provocateur
Brazil’s far-right leader has repeatedly called the Senate investigation politically motivated and aimed at sabotaging it.
He denied any wrongdoing.
“We know we are not responsible for anything. We know we did the right thing from the first moment, ”he said from Ceara state in the northeast.
Attorney General Augusto Aras’s office said in a statement that the report would be carefully analyzed once received. Amid concerns that Aras could protect the president from indictment, Senator Omar Aziz, who chaired the committee, told Al Jazeera there was enough evidence to put Bolsonaro behind bars.
“If the Attorney General does nothing, we will go to the Supreme Court and also to the International Court of Justice in The Hague,” he said. “We will continue to press for justice. “
In addition to Bolsonaro, the report recommends charges for current and former members of his administration, dozens of allies, the president’s three sons who are politicians and two companies.
The committee “gathered evidence which abundantly demonstrated that the federal government was silent and chose to act in a non-technical and reckless manner,” the report said.
The document can be amended before the 11-member Senate committee considers approving it; a vote is scheduled for October 26. The approval of the commission is required before the report is forwarded to the attorney general’s office.
The political impact of the investigation
Whether or not the report leads to charges, it is expected to intensify criticism of the divisive president, whose approval ratings plummeted ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign. The investigation itself has gone on for months. provided a drum of damaging allegations.
“The major impact of the survey is political, as it generated tons of information that will certainly be used by campaign strategists next year,” said Thiago de Aragao, director of strategy at the consultancy firm. Arko Advice policy.
During the six-month investigation, senators obtained thousands of documents and heard testimony from more than 60 people. As a result, scandals have come to light, such as Bolsonaro has reportedly turned a blind eye to possible corruption in a deal to buy coronavirus vaccines.
More recently, senators have heard heartbreaking stories from family members of COVID-19 victims.
On Monday, 19-year-old Giovanna Gomes Mendes da Silva spoke tearfully about the death of her parents and the need to take care of her 10-year-old sister. His testimony affected the sign language interpreter on the Senate Broadcasting Channel so much that he struggled to contain his emotion and had to be replaced halfway.
“We have lost the people we loved the most,” da Silva told senators. “And I saw that I needed my sister, and that she needed me. I leaned over her, just as she leaned over me.
An earlier version of the Senate report had recommended that the president also be charged with homicide and genocide, although both proposed charges were dropped amid opposition from committee members and fears that claims bombastic words do not undermine the credibility of the report.
Yet the report concluded that the government “deliberately exposed the population to a tangible risk of mass infection,” influenced by a group of unofficial advisers who advocated for the continuation of collective immunity long after many. experts said this was not a viable option.