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BRASILIA, BRAZIL – A Brazilian Senate committee on Tuesday recommended that President Jair Bolsonaro be the subject of a series of criminal indictments for actions and omissions linked to the second highest death toll from COVID-19 in world.

The 11-member committee’s 7-to-4 vote ended its six-month investigation into the government’s handling of the pandemic and calls on prosecutors to bring Bolsonaro to justice on charges ranging from quackery and incitement to crime of embezzlement of public funds and crimes against humanity.

Senator Omar Aziz, the chairman of the inquiry, said he would hand it over to the attorney general on Wednesday morning.

More than 600,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil. Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing.

THIS IS A CURRENT UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

A Brazilian Senate committee will vote on a report on Tuesday recommending that President Jair Bolsonaro be the subject of a series of criminal indictments for actions that would have added to the second highest death toll from COVID-19 in the world .

The report is the culmination of the 11-member committee’s six-month investigation into the government’s handling of the pandemic. He calls on Bolsonaro to face charges ranging from quackery and incitement to crime to the misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity, and therefore holds him accountable for many of the more than 600,000 deaths due. to COVID-19 in Brazil.

If approved, the decision on whether or not to lay charges would rest with the Attorney General of Brazil, a person appointed by Bolsonaro who is widely seen as protecting the president. The allegation of crimes against humanity should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

Whether or not the report leads to accusations, it should fuel criticism from the divisive president, whose approval ratings plummeted ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign – largely due to the outsized death toll from COVID-19 in Brazil. The investigation itself has for months provided a drum of damaging allegations.

Since the start of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has sabotaged restrictions on the activity of local leaders aimed at stopping the spread of the virus, saying the economy must continue to buzz so the poor do not face worse hardships. He also emphatically touted an anti-malaria drug long after extensive testing showed it was ineffective against COVID-19, gathered crowds without wearing masks, and cast doubt on vaccines.

Bolsonaro defended himself by saying he was one of the only leaders in the world brave enough to challenge political correctness and global health recommendations, and that he had made no mistakes.

Report author Senator Renan Calheiros first presented the nearly 1,200-page report last week. He says that by insisting on treatment with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as “virtually the only government policy to fight the pandemic, Jair Bolsonaro has strongly collaborated in the spread of COVID-19 in Brazilian territory” and is therefore “the chiefly responsible for the mistakes made by the federal government during the pandemic.

The members of the committee of the group of so-called “G7” senators who are not from the Bolsonaro base agreed on most of the points of the Calheiros report. They met on Monday to work out the final adjustments to the text.

The changes include the recommendation of fees for 13 additional people, many of whom are former or current employees of the health ministry, as well as the governor of the hard-hit Amazonas state, according to Calheiros. The final report recommends charges against two companies and 79 people, including Bolsonaro, current and former members of his administration, dozens of allies and the president’s three sons, who are politicians.

He also adds an additional violation for allegedly spreading fake news following Bolsonaro’s live broadcast on social media last week falsely claiming that people in the UK who received two doses of the vaccine are developing AIDS. faster than expected, the senator told the AP.

The committee’s approval is required before the report is forwarded to Attorney General Augusto Aras’s office, who may seek permission from the Supreme Court to continue the investigation and possibly file a complaint. His office said the report would be carefully reviewed upon receipt.

The report also contains recommendations for two counts of “felony of liability”, which are grounds for impeachment. The Speaker of the Lower House, Arthur Lira, a staunch ally of Bolsonaro, is expected to vote on whether to open impeachment proceedings. This is highly unlikely, given that Lira is currently sitting on more than 120 other impeachment requests, according to lower house information.

Bolsonaro’s son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, told reporters on Tuesday that the report was legally weak and politically motivated.

“The intention of some senators on the commission of inquiry is to cause maximum wear and tear on the president,” he said.

An earlier version of Calheiros’ report recommended that the president also be charged with homicide and genocide, but that was dropped even before its presentation last week. Some committee members opposed their inclusion while others expressed concern that bombastic claims could undermine the credibility of the report.

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