World, Americas

Brazil Senate report asks for charges against president related to pandemic

67 people, 2 companies also indicted by Senate commission

Gabriel Toueg and Corey Blackman   | 20.10.2021
Brazil Senate report asks for charges against president related to pandemic FILE PHOTO

SAO PAULO

A Brazilian Senate inquiry committee looking into the response of the government to the coronavirus pandemic, recommended Wednesday the indictment of 68 people, including President Jair Bolsonaro.

The probe identified more than 20 crimes committed by different individuals in the nearly 1,200-page report.

Brazil has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world, with more than 603,000 people.

Senator Renan Calheiros’s report recommends the indictment of Bolsonaro for nine crimes, including epidemic resulting in death, infraction of preventive sanitary measure, charlatanism, incitement to crime, forgery of private documents, irregular employment of public funds, malfeasance, crimes against humanity, and crimes of responsibility, for violating social rights and for incompatibility with the dignity, honor and decorum of the presidency.

It is based on a six-month investigation by the committee.

Among those indicted are three of Bolsonaro’s sons, ministers and former ministers, federal deputies and businessmen, and two companies. Bolsonaro’s sons, congressman from Sao Paulo Eduardo Bolsonaro, Rio de Janeiro City Councilor Carlos Bolsonaro and Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, were all indicted for incitement to crime.

Doctors, allegedly associated with the government’s so-called “parallel cabinet” of counseling, which functioned as a second Health Ministry, were also indicted for epidemics resulting in death. Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga was indicted for epidemic resulting in death and malfeasance, and former Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello for epidemic resulting in death, irregular employment of public funds, malfeasance, false reporting of crime and crime against humanity.

Three other ministers who are currently in office were also indicted.

The report is expected to be voted on Oct. 26 and can still be modified.

The decision to file charges is up to Attorney General Augusto Aras, who was appointed by the president.

It is unclear if he would act.

Some crimes recommended in the report are punishable with imprisonment, which can vary from one month to 15 years. Others could lead to Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

In the case of the crimes of responsibility for which Bolsonaro is accused, a decision is needed to move forward by Chamber of Deputies Speaker Arthur Lira.

In relation to crimes against humanity, accountability would depend on the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

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