Bolsonaro should be charged with COVID pandemic: Senate investigation | Coronavirus pandemic News

Brazil’s Senate formally presented a report calling for President Jair Bolsonaro to be indicted on criminal charges for allegedly mismanaging the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic – placing Brazil in second place in the number of deaths from the COVID-19 around the world.

The nearly 1,200-page report presented Wednesday by opposition senator Renan Calheiros is based on six months of work. He calls for Bolsonaro to be charged with 10 counts, including crimes against humanity.

The investigation began in April, alleging that Bolsonaro at the start of the pandemic denied opportunities for the government to acquire vaccines – delaying Brazil’s vaccination campaign at the cost of around 95,000 lives.

It was marked by moving testimonies and frightening revelations.

The report states that Bolsonaro was guided “by an unfounded belief in the theory of herd immunity by natural infection and the existence of a cure.”

“Without the vaccine, the deaths would be stratospheric, as they turned out to be,” according to the report which was made available on the Senate electronic system on Wednesday. More than 603,800 people in Brazil have died from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

The report is still subject to amendment and veto, and is yet to be voted on by the 11-member Senate committee on October 26.

The original draft included accusations of homicide and genocide, news agencies reported, citing officials who had reviewed the drafts. But those charges have since been removed.

However, any charges against Bolsonaro would have to be brought by Brazil’s prosecutor – a general appointed by Bolsonaro, making it highly unlikely that he will stand trial.

The Senate investigation heard testimonies from relatives of people who died from the coronavirus [File: Adriano Machado/Reuters]

Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly accused the investigation of being politically motivated. On Tuesday, Bolsonaro called the investigation a “joke” and told supporters he didn’t care.

The investigation heard testimony from 60 people, including relatives of COVID-19 victims.

In addition to Bolsonaro, the report recommends indictments for dozens of allies, current and former members of his administration – including his three oldest sons, who are politicians. The report alleges that they disseminated false information which prompted “failure to comply with health measures to contain the pandemic”.

A video circulated on social media on Wednesday showing Flavio Bolsonaro, one of the president’s sons, responding with a laugh, when asked about his father’s reaction to the report.

More than 600,000 people have died in Brazil from COVID-19, the second highest death toll in the world after the United States.

Bolsonaro has been widely criticized by public health experts for speaking out against the blockages, frequently refusing to wear a mask in public and saying he had not been vaccinated. He called COVID-19 the “little flu”.

He also pushed for unproven cures for the disease.

The report says Bolsonaro is “primarily responsible for government mistakes made during the COVID-19 pandemic” and has acted against the advice of his health ministry by supporting the use of unproven treatments.

Regardless of the attorney general’s response, the report’s allegations are expected to fuel criticism of the far-right leader, whose approval ratings plummeted ahead of his re-election campaign in 2022.

In addition to dissatisfaction with his handling of the pandemic, Bolsonaro’s popularity has suffered from a weak economy and rising inflation.

More than half of Brazilians disapprove of Bolsonaro, according to a poll released by Datafolha on September 16 – the highest disapproval rate since taking office in 2019.

Norman D. Briggs