Brazilian Senate recommends Bolsonaro face criminal charges for COVID-19 response – .

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Brazilian Senate recommends Bolsonaro face criminal charges for COVID-19 response – .


A Brazilian Senate commission on Tuesday recommended that President Jair Bolsonaro be the subject of a series of criminal indictments for actions and omissions linked to the second highest death toll from COVID-19 in the world.
The 7-to-4 vote was the culmination of a six-month investigation into the government’s handling of the pandemic. The committee formally approved a report calling on prosecutors to try Bolsonaro on charges ranging from quackery and incitement to crime to abuse of public funds and crimes against humanity.

Doing so is an attempt to hold him responsible for many of the more than 600,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Brazil.

The president has denied wrongdoing, and the decision on whether or not to lay most of the charges will rest with Attorney General Augusto Aras, a person appointed by Bolsonaro who is widely seen as protecting him. The allegation of crimes against humanity should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

Senator Omar Aziz, chairman of the inquiry, said he would deliver the recommendation to the attorney general on Wednesday morning. Aras’s office said the report will be carefully reviewed upon receipt.

“Main person responsible” for errors related to the pandemic

Whether or not charges are laid, the report is expected to fuel criticism from the divisive president, whose approval ratings plummeted ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign – largely due to the disproportionate death toll from COVID-19 in the country. Brazil. The investigation itself has for months provided a drum of damaging allegations.

Since the start of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has sabotaged restrictions on the activity of local leaders aimed at stopping the spread of the virus, saying the economy must continue to buzz so the poor do not face worse hardships. He also emphatically touted an anti-malaria drug long after extensive tests showed it was not effective against COVID-19, gathered crowds without wearing masks and cast doubt on vaccines.

Bolsonaro defended himself by saying he was one of the few world leaders brave enough to challenge political correctness and global health recommendations, and that he had made no mistakes.

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

Committee members of the so-called non-Bolsonaro base G7 senators group agreed on most of the points in Calheiros’ report. They met on Monday to work out the final adjustments to the text.

From left to right, Senators Omar Aziz, Randolfe Rodrigues and Renan Calheiros are attending a session of the committee of inquiry on the government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic at the Brasilia Senate on Tuesday. (Eraldo Peres/The Associated Press)

The changes include recommending fees for 13 additional people, many of whom are current or former employees of the health ministry, as well as the governor of the hard-hit 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.

2 counts of “felony of responsibility” recommended

The committee also added the accusation that the president broadcast fake news following his live broadcast on social media last week, incorrectly claiming that people in the UK who received two doses of the vaccine develop AIDS faster than expected.

The report also contains recommendations for two counts of “felony of liability”, which are grounds for impeachment. But the Speaker of the Lower House, Arthur Lira, a staunch ally of Bolsonaro, is expected to vote on whether to initiate impeachment proceedings – which is considered highly unlikely given that Lira is currently sitting on more than 120 other demands. of impeachment, according to information from the legislative body. .

Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, one of the president’s sons, called the report legally weak and politically motivated.

“The intention of some senators on the commission of inquiry is to cause maximum wear and tear on the president,” he told reporters.

An earlier draft had recommended that the president also be charged with homicide and genocide, but that was dropped even before its presentation last week. Some committee members opposed such accusations while others expressed concern that bombastic claims could undermine the credibility of the report.

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

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