Americas

Brazilian panel accuses Bolsonaro of homicide over handling of pandemic: report

A congressional panel in Brazil is reportedly preparing to recommend homicide charges against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for what it alleges to be his failed handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the country.

Excerpts of the panel's report were obtained by The New York Times in which it recommends homicide charges against 69 other individuals, including many current and former government officials. The report seeks to blame Bolsonaro's policies for the deaths of more than 300,000 Brazilians, half of the people who have died in the country due to the coronavirus.

The report found that Bolsonaro pushed unproven COVID-19 treatments such as hydroxychloroquine while ignoring communications from vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer, the Times reported.

The nearly 1,200-page report is expected to be released later this week.

Last week, Renan Calheiros, a Brazilian senator who is leading the probe into Bolsonaro's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Brazilian president could face up to 11 criminal charges. However, experts have said that Bolsonaro is unlikely to actually face charges, as they would need to be approved by the country's lower House.

Calheiros told the Times of Bolsonaro in an interview on Monday, "I am personally convinced that he is responsible for escalating the slaughter."

According to the Times, the congressional report also accuses Bolsonaro of carrying out a "genocide" against Indigenous Brazilian people in the Amazon whose populations were devastated by the pandemic.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Brazil has continuously ranked among the worst-affected countries in the world. It currently ranks second for most coronavirus-related deaths, with more than 603,000, and third in the world for the number of confirmed cases, with more than 21 million, according to the World Health Organization. The U.S. remains first in both categories.

If the charges are approved and Bolsonaro is formally accused, he would be suspended from office for 180 days pending a decision from Brazil's Supreme Court on the case. If he is convicted, he would be blocked from the Brazilian presidency for eight years and potentially face years in prison, according to the Times.

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