Mon | Nov 29, 2021

Brazil Senate report urges charging President Bolsonaro over pandemic

Published:Wednesday | October 20, 2021 | 10:56 AM
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro waits for the arrival of Colombia's President Ivan Duque to Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, October 19, 2021. Duque is on a two-day visit to Brazil. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A Brazilian senator has formally presented a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be indicted on criminal charges for allegedly bungling Brazil's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and pushing the country's death toll to the second-highest in the world.

The nearly 1,200-page report by Senator Renan Calheiros is based on six months of work by the committee investigating the government's management of the pandemic and was made available on the Senate's electronic system Wednesday.

It calls for Bolsonaro to be indicted on a series of charges, from charlatanism and inciting crime all the way up to crimes against humanity.

The report can still be modified before the committee vote on October 26, and the decision on whether to file most of the charges would be up to Brazil's prosecutor-general, who was appointed by the president.

Analysts say it's unclear if he would act.

Recommended charges also include misuse of public funds and “prevarication,” which entails delaying or refraining from action required as part of a public official's duty for reasons of personal interest, and several others.

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

Critics have denounced Bolsonaro for downplaying COVID-19′s severity, ignoring international health guidelines on masks and restrictions on activity designed to prevent the virus' spread, touting unproven treatments and delaying the acquisition of vaccines.

Anger over the president's response prompted the 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 the disease.

Calheiros, who the committee formally designated to write the report, was to read a summary later 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, who would decide whether to carry forward the investigation and eventually pursue charges.

In Brazil, members of congressional committees can investigate but don't have the power to indict.

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