Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro was recorded telling World Health Organization (WHO) Director Tedros Adhanom he was the only head of state charged with crimes against humanity for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conversation is said to have taken place on the sides of the G20 Summit in Rome.
An investigative committee made up of Brazilian Senators, known as CPI, has drafted a report accusing Bolsonaro of three crimes against humanity during the pandemic, an accusation that will be sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as well as to local prosecutors.
I am the only head of state in the world who is being investigated, accused of genocide, Bolsonaro told Adhanom.
The informal dialogue is said to have taken place Sunday in Rome and it was recorded in a video quoted today by the daily Valor Economico. The audio quality is imperfect but it recorded that Bolsonaro asked about the origin of the virus.
Joining Bolsonaro and Adhanom was Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga, who joined the conversation to say, laughing: ”I'm also going to go with him (Bolsonaro) to The Hague, to walk to The Hague. Queiroga is also accused by the parliamentary commission of alleged crimes committed while managing the pandemic.
On Monday Bolsonaro arrived in Anguillara Veneta, a village in northern Italy where he was to be made an honorary citizen, but he was prevented from attending the City Hall, in front of which about 200 people were protesting the distinction.
Instead, Bolsonaro headed to space two kilometres from the municipal headquarters, where far-right Mayor Alessandra Buoso offered lunch to the Brazilian delegation, while the 200 demonstrators faced bad weather to express their disapproval of Bolsonaro's honorary citizenship.
Citizenship is inopportune because Bolsonaro's positions do not reflect the values of our Constitution, said opposition councillor Antonio Spada, citing the president's frequent homophobic and misogynistic statements and his policies for the Amazon as an example. Father Massimo Ramundo, who spent 20 years in Brazil, 12 of them in the Amazon Forest, said that Bolsonaro's actions go against everything that Pope Francis professes on a daily basis.
At the end of last week, the headquarters of the City of Anguillara Veneta had already been spray-painted with the phrase Outside Bolsonaro and vandalized with manure by an environmental group opposing the honour.
According to Mayor Buoso, honorary citizenship is justified by the fact that the president has a great-grandfather born in the municipality. We don't want to go into the political aspects because it's not our role or our will, we just want to remember that the ties between these two nations are extremely strong,” she said.
Bolsonaro's tour of Italy ends Tuesday with a visit to a monument in Pistoia in memory of Brazilian soldiers fallen in World War II.