Brazil senators readying call for Bolsonaro criminal charges

Oct 19, 2021, 6:00 PM | Updated: 9:10 pm
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro talks on cell phone after meeting with Colombia's President Ivan...

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro talks on cell phone after meeting with Colombia's President Ivan Duque at Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Duque is on a two-day visit to Brazil. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazilian senators met into Tuesday night discussing a report that will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be indicted on criminal charges for allegedly bungling the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and pushing the country’s death toll to second-highest in the world.

The latest draft of the report arising from a Senate committee’s investigation, a copy of which was reviewed by The Associated Press, recommends the president be indicted on 11 charges, from charlatanism and inciting crime all the way up to homicide and genocide.

In the committee’s so-called “G7” group of senators who aren’t from Bolsonaro’s base, three opposed inclusion of homicide and genocide charges, said five committee members who agreed to discuss details of the sensitive talks only if not quoted by name. The three were trying to persuade their four peers to join in opposing the two charges, the senators said.

Whether they remain or not, analysts said it was unclear such recommendations would lead to charges against the president.

Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing, and repeatedly accused the investigation of being a political instrument aimed at sabotaging him.

Critics have denounced Bolsonaro for insistently downplaying the coronavirus’ severity, ignoring international health guidelines on masks and restrictions on activity designed to prevent the virus’ spread, touting unproven treatments and delaying acquisition of vaccines.

Anger over the president’s stance prompted creation of the Senate committee in April, which has investigated allegations that Bolsonaro’s management of the pandemic caused many of Brazil’s more than 600,000 deaths from COVID-19.

The draft report of nearly 1,200 pages was written by Sen. Renan Calheiros, who was scheduled to present his much-anticipated final version Wednesday to the 11-person committee.

The document has to be approved by the committee before being sent to the office of the prosecutor-general, a Bolsonaro appointee who would decide whether to carry forward the investigation and perhaps pursue charges. In Brazil, members of congressional committees can investigate, but don’t have the power to indict.

Regardless of the exact content of the report’s final version or whether the prosecutor-general moves forward, its allegations are expected to fuel criticism of the far-right leader, whose approval ratings have slumped ahead of his 2022 reelection campaign.

“The major impact of the investigation is political, because it generated tons of news that certainly will be used by campaign strategists next year,” said Thiago de Aragão, director of strategy at political consultancy Arko Advice.

In its current shape, the draft report concludes that the government “deliberately exposed the population to a concrete risk of mass infection,” influenced by a group of unofficial advisers who advocated for pursuing herd immunity even after many experts said that wasn’t a viable option.

Even during the worst throes of the pandemic, Bolsonaro steadfastly opposed social distancing measures, claiming the poor would suffer worse hardship if the economy ground to a halt. He continues to argue that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating COVID-19, though scientists have dismissed it as ineffective.

Throughout six months of investigation, senators have obtained thousands of documents and taken testimony from over 60 people.

“This committee collected evidence that abundantly demonstrated that the federal government was silent and chose to act in a non-technical and reckless manner,” the draft report reads.

A particularly thorny issue has been Sen. Calheiros’ insistence on including a recommendation that the International Criminal Court investigate Bolsonaro for possible genocide of Indigenous peoples, said the senators who spoke with AP. This has angered committee members, including critics of the government, who say genocide is an exaggeration that could threaten the entire report’s credibility, they said.

While there is less opposition among senators to recommending indictment for homicide, they have similar concerns about doing so, the senators said.

“The prosecutor-general’s office will look with a magnifying glass for errors, failures and inconsistencies in order to wash their hands of it,” said political analyst Carlos Melo, who teaches at Insper University in Sao Paulo. “If you have 10 accusations that are very strong, and one that has inconsistencies, that’s what the government will latch on to, to try and discredit the whole report.”

In addition to Bolsonaro, the draft report recommends charges for dozens of allies and current and former members of his administration. The three senators opposed to recommending homicide and genocide charges for Bolsonaro also reject indicting Bolsonaro’s lawmaker son, Sen. Flávio Bolsonaro, senators said.

Senators on the committee have also been wary of calling for charges against members of the military.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Grey clouds cover the sky over a building of the Credit Suisse bank in Zurich, Switzerland, ...
Associated Press

Credit Suisse posts $1.4B pre-tax loss as woes go on in 4Q

GENEVA (AP) — Credit Suisse on Thursday reported a pre-tax loss of more than 1.3 billion Swiss francs (about $1.4 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year, as its new managers vie to right the top-drawer Swiss bank that has faced a string of setbacks in recent years. The bank also announced the $175 […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

3 dead in apartment building fire in Novosibirsk, Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — A gas explosion in an apartment building in the south-central Russian city of Novosibirsk Thursday morning killed three people, according to the latest reports from local authorities. Novosibirsk is the administrative capital of Siberia and Russia’s third-largest city by population. Regional Gov. Andrey Travnikov confirmed the deaths of three people, noting that […]
3 hours ago
FILE - A staff of Nissan car showroom wipes a car on Jan. 31, 2022, in Tokyo. Nissan reported a 55%...
Associated Press

Japan’s Nissan reports better profit as chip crunch eases

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan reported a 55% jump in October-December profit Thursday, as the Japanese automaker seeks to embark on a less bumpy journey with its French alliance partner Renault. Profit for the quarter at Yokohama-based Nissan Motor Co. totaled 50.6 billion yen ($386 million), up from 32.7 billion yen the previous year. Quarterly sales […]
3 hours ago
Heavy machinery moves coal as it is poured onto a stack near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, Aus...
Associated Press

Australia rejects new coal mine on environmental grounds

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has for the first time rejected a coal mining application based on environmental law. The government is under pressure to curb climate change by blocking all new coal and gas extraction projects. Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of both fossil fuels, which are major sources of the […]
3 hours ago
Raqiya Abdsalam, who survived a bout of dengue fever, sits at her home in El-Obeid, Sudan on Januar...
Associated Press

Sudan’s tropical disease spike reflects poor health system

EL OBEID, Sudan (AP) — The two Sudanese women thought they had malaria and were taking their medication, but things took a dire turn. Both complained of a splitting headache and fever that didn’t respond to the anti-malaria treatment. By the time she was diagnosed with dengue fever, Raqiya Abdsalam was unconscious. “Soon after they […]
3 hours ago
FILE - Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. gestures during his speech at the 2022 Department ...
Associated Press

Japan, Philippines to sign plans to boost defense ties

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. are expected to sign key agreements to boost their defense ties Thursday as Asia sees tensions around China’s growing influence. Marcos is visiting Japan soon after he and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reached agreements on allowing the United States […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Brazil senators readying call for Bolsonaro criminal charges