Brazil senators vote to recommend charges for President Jair Bolsonaro over pandemic handling

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A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

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Driving the news: The vote comes after a six-month investigation by an 11-member committee investigating Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic.

  • The committee recommended 12 charges for Bolsonaro, including inciting crimes, charlatanism and misuse of public funds.

  • It also recommended he face charges for the genocide of indigenous people and two counts of "crime of responsibility."

What they're saying: Sen. Renan Calheiros, the report's lead author, accused Bolsonaro after the vote of being "on the side" of dictators, such as Adolf Hitler, according to Reuters.

  • "The chaos of Jair Bolsonaro's government will enter history as the lowest level of human destitution," Calheiros said.

Background: Bolsonaro has repeatedly flouted restrictions meant to curb the virus' spread, despite surging cases and his country having the second-highest tally of COVID-19 deaths in the world.

  • He has advocated for hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus despite a lack of evidence.

By the numbers: The 11-member committee voted 7-4 in favor of the charges, per AP.

What's next: The case will now go to prosecutor-general Augusto Aras, who will decide whether the investigation should move forward. Aras is a Bolsonaro appointee and is widely viewed as someone who protects the president, per AP.

  • The crimes against humanity charge will need to be pursued in the International Criminal Court.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Calheiros' comment.

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