Senators accuse Bolsonaro of crimes against humanity (Oct. 27, 2021)
A Brazilian Senate investigative committee voted 7-to-4 to recommend nine criminal charges against President Jair Bolsonaro for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, including "crimes against humanity." The committee approved a report that also alleges that 77 additional people, including the president’s three sons, and two companies committed crimes, based on six months of explosive testimony that has shocked Brazilians. The committee hearings, broadcast live, have featured emotional witness statements and chilling revelations about the use of ineffective medication on "human guinea pigs."
"The chaos of Jair Bolsonaro's government will enter history as the lowest level of human destitution," said Senator Renan Calheiros, rapporteur of the report, adding that the president was "on the side" of dictators, including Adolf Hitler and Augusto Pinochet.
Final changes to the report released last week include recommending charges for 13 additional people, many of them current or former Health Ministry employees, as well as Amazonas state governor Wilson Limas.
The panel also voted to ask Brazil’s Supreme Court to request that Bolsonaro be banned from social media for the “protection of the population.” The addition comes after the president suggested during a weekly social media livestream that the coronavirus vaccine could cause AIDS. Facebook and YouTube removed the video, and YouTube froze Bolsonaro’s channel for a week. (See yesterday's briefs.) The senators agreed to ask Google, Facebook, and Twitter to send data on the president's internet activity since April 2020 to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Supreme Court.
Bolsonaro is unlikely to face formal charges as president -- they would have to be brought by Brazil's prosecutor-general, whom the president appointed and is widely viewed as protecting Bolsonaro. Sen. Omar Aziz, the chairman of the inquiry, said he would deliver the recommendation to Prosecutor-General Augusto Aras this morning. Aras’ office said the report would be carefully reviewed as soon as it is received.
The report also contains recommendations for two counts of “crime of responsibility,” which are grounds for impeachment. But impeachment proceedings would have to pass Lower House Speaker Arthur Lira, an ally of Bolsonaro who is currently sitting on more than 120 other impeachment requests.
Nonetheless, the report highlights Bolsonaro's increasing isolation ahead of presidential elections next year.
(Reuters, New York Times, Associated Press, AFP, Reuters)
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