Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Prosecution presents case to oust President Rousseff

Published:Wednesday | August 31, 2016 | 8:00 AM
Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff speaks at her own impeachment trial in Brasilia, Brazil.
Brazil's acting President Michel Temer.
Demonstrators hold a banner that reads in Portuguese; ‘Temer out, the people decide,’ during a protest against Brazil’s acting President Michel Temer, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday, August 30.
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BRASILIA (AP):

The lead prosecutor in the trial to oust Brazil's first female president said yesterday that Dilma Rousseff had committed "fraud" in her accounting practices, then came to tears saying she hopes the leader forgives her for causing her to suffer.

Speaking on the fifth day of a trial to decide Rousseff's fate, Janaina Paschoal said the leader had broken fiscal responsibility laws in managing the federal budget. "We are not dealing with a little accounting problem, we are dealing with fraud," she said.

"It wasn't just that a president lied," said Paschoal. "The fraud was spoken and the fraud was documented."

Wrapping up her presentation minutes later, Paschoal came to tears when she said she hoped Rousseff would be forgiving for "having caused her to suffer".

The dramatic presentation came in the final phase of a political fight that has consumed Latin America's largest nation since an impeachment measure was introduced in the lower Chamber of Deputies late last year.

EXACERBATED INFLATION

After the prosecution and defence present their final arguments, the Senate was to vote whether to permanently remove Rousseff from office. That decision could come late Tuesday or Wednesday.

Opposition senators accuse Rousseff of using illegal means to hide holes in the federal budget, saying that exacerbated a recession, high inflation and layoffs.

Rousseff, a former guerrilla fighter who was tortured and imprisoned during the country's dictatorship, calls that nonsense. She says she broke no laws and notes that previous presidents used similar accounting

measures.

On Monday, she mounted that defence in the Senate, arguing that she was forced to make tough choices on the budget in the face of declining revenues and a refusal by opponents in Congress to work with her.

"I know I will be judged, but my conscience is clear. I did not commit a crime," Rousseff told senators in a 30-minute address.

Rousseff then took questions from senators for 14 hours.

For Rousseff to be removed, at least 54 of the 81 senators must vote in favour. Local media report at least 52 senators have said they will vote for ouster, while roughly 18 are opposed and 11 have not said. In May, the same body voted 55-22 to impeach and suspend her.

"I need all of you, regardless of political parties," Rousseff said in her closing remarks to senators, urging them to keep her in the presidency. Their response was tepid.

Watching the proceedings was Rousseff's mentor and predecessor as president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is himself under investigation.