Final report from Senate probe on pandemic lists 80 charges

The committee suggests President Bolsonaro be charged over nine crimes

Published on 27/10/2021 - 11:45 By Karine Melo, Heloisa Cristaldo - Brasília

After a day packed with debates, with seven votes against four, Brazilian senators on Tuesday (Oct. 26) approved the final report from the Parliamentary Committee of Investigation on the pandemic, drafted by Senator Renan Calheiros.

For approximately six months, the committee—or CPI, in the original Portuguese acronym—looked into suspected flaws in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the federal government as well as state leaders.

One of the main topics in the 1,299-page document suggests charges against President Jair Bolsonaro over nine crimes, ranging from ordinary offenses laid out in the Criminal Code to impeachable crimes under the Impeachment Law. Also mentioned are crimes against humanity as per the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in Hague.

On the list are the president as well as 77 other people—among them three of the president’s sons, ministers, former ministers, federal representatives, doctors, and businessmen. Two companies are also named: Precisa Medicamentos and VTCLog. Altogether, 80 charges are requested.

Under protest from pro-government senators, Senator Calheiros also mentions the delay in the purchase of vaccines against the coronavirus and the Brazilian government’s tardiness in responding to Pfizer and the Butantan Institute, which offered doses of the inoculation under the National Immunization Program in 2020.

Next steps

As a political trial, a Parliamentary Committee of Investigation cannot punish just any citizen on its own. The committee may recommend charges, but investigations are furthered and accusations officially lodged depending on other institutions. Even though the final version of the report marks the end of the inquiry, the leading congressmen have vowed to follow the developments of what has been unveiled in the inquiry.

The committee’s deputy chair, Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, pointed out that the assessment of the crimes attributed to President Jair Bolsonaro falls under the responsibility of the country’s prosecutor-general, Augusto Aras. In this connection, he restated he expects Aras to “do his duty,” further looking into the conclusions drawn in the final report. Rodrigues also argued that, should the prosecutor-general fail to act, or the Prosecution Service, in regards to the others named in the document, Brazilian law offers other pathways. One of them, he went on, is submitting the text directly to the Supreme Court.

As for federal representatives, the lower house speaker must open a case for impeachable crime. Concerning those targeted over crimes against humanity, in turn, action must be taken by the International Criminal Court.

Senator Rodrigues confirmed the copies of the report should start being delivered Monday (27). Senate president Rodrigo Pacheco and Prosecutor-General Augusto Aras will be the first to receive the text.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Fábio Massalli / Nira Foster

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