Report urges Brazil's leader to be charged over pandemic

Brazilians will focus their attention on Wednesday on the Senate. A report that has been six months in making will recommend that President Jair Bolsonaro is indicted for criminal charges. He is accused of bungling the response at the COVID-19 pandemic and pushing Brazil's death toll up to second in the world.

Report urges Brazil's leader to be charged over pandemic

The Associated Press reviewed Tuesday's draft of the Senate committee's report and recommended that the president be indicted for 11 charges. These include charlatanism, inciting crime, homicide, and genocide.

Three senators from Bolsonaro opposed the inclusion of genocide and homicide charges in the so-called "G7", group of senators not from Bolsonaro. Five committee members agreed to discuss the details of the sensitive talks if they were not named.

Analysts believe it is unclear whether such recommendations will lead to the President being charged. This would be the decision of Brazil's prosecutor general, who was appointed to this role by the president.

Bolsonaro denied any wrongdoing and accused the investigation of being a political tool aimed at sabotaging his presidency.

Bolsonaro has been criticized by critics for downplaying coronavirus severity and ignoring international guidelines on masks, restrictions on activity and activities designed to stop the spread of the virus. He also promoted unproven treatments and delayed the acquisition vaccines.

The Senate committee was formed in April to investigate allegations that Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic led to many of Brazil's 600,000 deaths due COVID-19.

Sen. Renan Calheiros wrote the draft report, which was nearly 1,200 pages long. He was to present his final version Wednesday before the eleven-person committee.

Before the document can be sent to the office for the prosecutor-general, it must be approved by the committee. The prosecutor-general will decide whether to continue the investigation or pursue charges. Brazil's congressional committees have the ability to investigate but not have the power of indicting.

The allegations in the report are likely to be critical of Far-Right leader Donald Trump, regardless of whether or not the prosecutor-general goes ahead with the final version.

Thiago De Aragao, director strategy at political consultancy Arko Advice, stated that "the major impact of this investigation is political because it generated tons news that will certainly be used by campaign strategists next Year."

The draft report, as it stands now, concludes that the government "deliberately exposed population to a concrete threat of mass infection." It was influenced by unofficial advisors who advocated for herd immunity despite the fact that many experts have said otherwise.

Bolsonaro stood firm against social distancing, even during the worst of the pandemic. He claimed that the poor would be more affected if the economy collapsed. Bolsonaro continues to claim that hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug for COVID-19, is effective, even though scientists have dismissed this argument as ineffective.

Six months of investigation saw senators obtain thousands of documents and hear testimony from more than 60 people.

The draft report states that "this committee collected evidence that abundantly showed that the federal government was silent" and that it chose to act in an untechnical, reckless way.

The senators spoke to AP and said that Sen. Calheiros insistence on including a recommendation for the International Criminal Court to investigate Bolsonaro's possible genocide. The senators spoke out saying that this angered the committee, as well as critics of government, who called Bolsonaro's genocide an exaggeration, which could have a serious impact on the credibility of the whole report.

Although there was less resistance from senators to indicting for homicide, they expressed similar concerns, the senators stated.

Carlos Melo, a political analyst at Insper University in Sao Paulo, said that the prosecutor-general's will examine the report with a magnifying lens to find errors, failures, and inconsistencies. "If there are 10 strong accusations and one with inconsistencies, the government will grab that to discredit the entire report."

Bolsonaro was not the only one to be charged in the draft report. There were also charges against dozens of other allies and former and current members of his administration.

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