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Brazil's CPI finds Bolsonaro should face 10 criminal charges for his handling of the COVID-19 crisis

Thursday, October 21st 2021 - 09:44 UTC
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The CPI will now vote on this report Oct. 26 The CPI will now vote on this report Oct. 26

Brazilian Senator Renan Calheiros, rapporteur of the Upper House's Parliamentarian Commission (CPI) investigating President Jair Bolsonaro for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wednesday announced 10 criminal charges were to be filed against the head of state.

The CPI Wednesday issued an official report whereby Bolsonaro is allegedly responsible for crimes against humanity for how he handled the pandemic, resulting in death, charlatanism, incitement to crime, falsification of documents, irregular use of public funds, prevarication, violations of social rights, incompatibility with the dignity, honour and decorum of the position, and violations of preventive health measures.

Calheiros, also requested the investigation be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The CPI's final report also recommends other 65 people be charged with an assortment of alleged crimes ranging from inciting a crime to forming a criminal organization. Bolsonaro's sons Flavio, Eduardo and Carlos are on the list, together with current and former ministers as well as other senior officials, including former Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello and the current one Marcelo Queiroga, in addition to Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto. Congressmen, bloggers, medical advisers and businessmen also appear on the list.

One of the main conclusions of the 1,180-page document is that the Brazilian government, “omitted and chose to act in a non-technical and reckless manner in the fight against the pandemic… deliberately exposing the population to a concrete risk of massive infection.”

The report also features a series of items for Congress to discuss such as criminalizing fake news, orphan pension, early retirement caused by COVID-19, and a 60-day time limit for Congress to review requests to impeach Bolsonaro.

Initially, the report was also expected to include charges of homicide and genocide against indigenous people, but the committee ultimately decided to drop them. According to some reports, the charges were scrapped in the face of opposition from some committee members, who maintained such claims could undermine the report's credibility.

The committee's 11 members are now expected to debate and vote on the report on October 26. The document can still be altered or outright vetoed during the vote. If it does pass the vote, the document will be handed over to Brazil's Attorney General Augusto Aras, who was appointed by Bolsonaro in September 2019, and it is still unclear whether he would go ahead with an indictment.

More than 600,000 people have died in Brazil of COVID-19 since February 2020. Brazil's outbreak has been considered one of the worst in the world, second only to that of the US.

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