Brazilian parliamentary committee to seek indictment of Bolsonaro of a series of premeditated crimes

Brazilian parliamentary committee to seek indictment of Bolsonaro of a series of premeditated crimes
Brazilian parliamentary committee to seek indictment of Bolsonaro of a series of premeditated crimes

A parliamentary commission of the Brazilian Senate will request Wednesday that President Jair Bolsonaro be indicted for a series of “intentional” crimes during the COVID-19 epidemic that has killed more than 600,000 people in his country.

After six months of tumultuous sessions punctuated by poignant testimonies and revelations of human trials of ineffective drugs, the panel, which includes senators from all walks of life, intends to issue a report that Brazilians have been waiting for.

The document, which is about 1,200 pages long, or probably an abbreviated version of it, will be read by Rapporteur General Renan Caheiros. On Tuesday evening, he announced that he had retained nine charges against Jair Bolsonaro, including committing a “crime against humanity”.

The charges of “murder” and “indigenous genocide” were withdrawn at the last minute due to disagreements within the commission.

The Committee considers that the offenses set forth in the report “Deliberate” because Bolsonaro’s government has deliberately decided not to take the necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus.

These serious accusations are expected to have a symbolic effect now because the right-wing nationalist president has support in Parliament that allows him to avoid launching impeachment proceedings against him. Also, Attorney General Augusto Arras, a Bolsonaro ally, can block an indictment of the president.

It is assumed that the parliamentary committee seeks to bring charges against a number of ministers and the three eldest sons of the president, who described the committee as a “farce”.

“This report will look like a judgment, but the government is calm. We can criticize the president’s position, but not criminalize it,” Yul Fernando Bezerra, head of the government’s parliamentary group in the Senate, told a media website.

‘We deserve an apology’

The parliamentary commission does not have the power to initiate prosecutions, but its report could have a major political impact, as polls predict Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat by former leftist President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva one year before the presidential election.

The report will be sent to the Public Prosecution Office, the only institution empowered to indict persons convicted by the Parliamentary Committee. In the case of Jair Bolsonaro, experts say that Bolsonaro’s indictment is unlikely, since it is up to the attorney general.

After the hearings of many ministers, senior officials or directors of hospitals and companies, the committee’s work took a humanitarian turn on Monday through the testimonies of the families of a number of Covid-19 victims.

“We deserve apologies from the highest state authority. This is not a political issue. We are talking about human lives,” said taxi driver Marcio Antonio Silva, who lost his 25-year-old son, in tears.

For his part, in his testimony to the committee, Antonio Carlos Costa, head of the non-governmental organization “Rio de Paz”, said that “what we saw is the opposite of what we can expect from a president of a republic. We have never seen him shed tears of sympathy or express his condolences to the sad Brazilian people.”

“Punish those responsible”

The commission investigated the government’s responsibilities in the serious lack of oxygen that caused the death of dozens of patients asphyxiation in Manaus (north), and Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-quarantine speech and his denial of the seriousness of the Covid disease, which he considered “a simple flu”.

The government also faces criticism for delays and suspicions of corruption in the procurement of vaccines.

The committee also considered the relationship between Brasilia and private health centers accused of promoting “early treatment”, especially the use of hydroxychloroquine, which has been scientifically proven to be ineffective.

It is suspected that one of these hospitals, Prevent Senior, experimented with this type of treatment without the knowledge of its patients, and pressured its doctors to prescribe the drug to people treated as “lab rats”.

Committee Chairman Omar Aziz on Tuesday summed up the situation, saying, “It is clear that the committee’s report aims to punish officials, and they are many. We cannot afford not to punish them.”

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