Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro ‘should be charged with crimes against humanity’ - Senate committee

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Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro ‘should be charged with crimes against humanity’ - Senate committee
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Brazilian senators have recommended President Jair Bolsonaro is charged with crimes against humanity over the country’s Covid-19 death toll.

The seven-to-four vote on Tuesday was the culmination of a six-month committee investigation of the government’s handling of the pandemic.

It formally approved a report calling for prosecutors to try Mr Bolsonaro on charges ranging from charlatanism and inciting crime to misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity, and in doing so hold him responsible for many of Brazil’s more than 600,000 Covid-19 deaths.

Mr Bolsonaro has denied wrongdoing, and the decision on whether to file most of the charges will be up to Prosecutor-General Augusto Aras, a presidential appointee who is widely viewed as protecting him.

The allegation of crimes against humanity would need to be pursued by the International Criminal Court.

Senator Omar Aziz, the chairman of the inquiry, said he would deliver the recommendation to the prosecutor-general today.

Regardless of whether charges are filed, the report is expected to fuel criticism of the divisive president, whose approval ratings have slumped ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign - in large part because of Brazil’s Covid-19 death toll, the second-highest in the world.

Since the start of the pandemic, Mr Bolsonaro has sabotaged local leaders’ restrictions on activity aimed at stopping the virus’s spread, saying the economy needed to keep pumping so the poor did not suffer worse hardship.

He also has touted an anti-malaria drug long after broad testing showed it is not effective against Covid-19, assembled crowds without wearing masks and fuelled doubts about vaccines.

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