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Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro should face murder charges over Covid response, senate report concludes

·2-min read
Jair Bolsonaro (Michael M Santiago/PA) (PA Wire)
Jair Bolsonaro (Michael M Santiago/PA) (PA Wire)

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with murder for his role in his country’s “stratospheric” coronavirus death toll, a draft Senate report into Brazil’s Covid crisis concluded.

The report claims that Mr Bolsonaro undertook a “deliberate and conscious” decision to delay buying vaccines which caused the deaths of 95,000 Brazilians.

The nearly 1,200-page document criticises Mr Bolsonaro’s anti-vaccine and anti-science rhetoric during his country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Bolsonaro has dismissed the probe - led by opposition senator Renan Calheiros - as politically motivated.

The report says Bolsonaro was guided “by an unfounded belief in the theory of herd immunity by natural infection and the existence of a treatment.”

“Without the vaccine, deaths would be stratospheric, as they turned out to be,” the report adds.

The draft report still needs to be voted on by the Senate and could be vetoed and altered. The vote is scheduled to take place next week.

In total, the report recommends 13 criminal charges be brought against Mr Bolsonaro, including genocide against Brazil’s indigenous population for a series of actions that left their communities vulnerable to the virus.

Commentators have said it is highly unlikely that he will face a trial on any such charges, which would have to be brought by Brazil’s prosecutor general - a presidential nominee whom he appointed.

With over 600,000 deaths, Brazil has the second-highest death toll worldwide due to Covid-19, behind only the United States.

Mr Bolsonaro has been widely criticized by public health experts for railing against lockdowns, frequently refusing to wear a mask in public, and declaring he has not yet been vaccinated.

He has also pushed unproven remedies for the illness such as antimalarial hydroxychloroquine.

The Health Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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