Brazil: Senators Charge Bolsonaro with ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ over Coronavirus

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - OCTOBER 22: President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a last minute press conference at the Ministry of Economy on October 22, 2021 in Brasilia, Brazil. Four key members of Guede's team had resigned on Thursday in disagreement with Bolsonaro's intention to increase public spending cap to fund …
Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

The Brazilian Senate committee investigating President Jair Boslonaro’s response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic voted 7-4 on Tuesday to recommend criminal charges against him, including crimes against humanity.

A draft copy of the Brazilian Senate report leaked last week included even more severe charges against Bolsonaro, including homicide and genocide – the latter charge premised on the coronavirus pandemic allegedly hitting Brazil’s indigenous people especially hard. The senators removed some of those recommendations from the report after the media published them.

The final Senate report recommended nine charges including incitement to criminal activity, falsification of documents, violation of social rights, misusing public funds, and spreading disinformation about the coronavirus. 

The committee will forward eight of the report’s recommendations for prosecution to Attorney General Augusto Aras, a Bolsonaro appointee and ally seen as unlikely to press charges. The ninth charge, of crimes against humanity, will be passed along to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The report, which runs 1,300 pages long, also recommends charges against 77 other individuals, including three of Bolsonaro’s sons.

“The chaos of Jair Bolsonaro’s government will enter history as the lowest level of human destitution,” declared the lead author of the report, Sen. Renan Calheiros.

In an interview on Tuesday, Calheiros called Bolsonaro a “serial killer who has a death compulsion and continues to repeat everything he has done before.”

“It is a totally political report, without any legal basis,” shot back Flavio Bolsonaro, a member of the Brazilian Senate and one of the president’s sons, accused of criminal activity in the final report.

“The intent of some senators on the investigative committee is to cause the maximum amount of wear and tear on the president,” Flavio Bolsonaro said.

“They label me as genocidal, charlatan, document forger and exterminator. It is absurd what these guys have done,” President Bolsonaro remarked in an interview on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Senate committee asked Google, Facebook, and Twitter to provide Brazilian prosecutors and the national Supreme Court with records of President Bolsonaro’s internet activity since April 2020, including all content posted to his social media accounts.

The committee also asked the companies to suspend all of Bolsonaro’s accounts, a move that would clearly damage his effort to run for re-election in 2022.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump endorsed Bolsonaro for re-election on Tuesday, saying he has become “great friends” with the Brazilian president over the past few years.

“He fights hard for, and loves, the people of Brazil – just like I do for the people of the United States,” Trump said of the Brazilian president. “Brazil is lucky to have a man such as Jair Bolsonaro working for them.”

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