Report says Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro should face charges for COVID-19 response

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Oct. 20 (UPI) — An investigative report issued by Brazilian lawmakers on Wednesday recommends that controversial President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with “crimes against humanity” for essentially letting COVID-19 ravage the South American nation in a failed bid to achieve herd immunity.

The report by Brazil’s Senate and opposition lawmaker Renan Calheiros, which will be released in full on Wednesday, is expected to recommend charges of homicide for Bolsonaro for the country’s many coronavirus deaths.

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The New York Times, CNN and Sky News reported contents of the draft report ahead of its release.

According to the 1,200 page report, Bolsonaro should be charged for at least 11 crimes for crimes against humanity, incitement to commit crime and “charlatanism.”

The document also says Bolsonaro’s government should be held to account for “deliberate and conscious” decisions to delay vaccinations. More than 600,000 Brazilians have died of the virus since the pandemic began in early 2020.

Wednesday’s report is also expected to recommend charges for 69 other people, including three of Bolsonaro’s sons and other government officials. The Brazilian Senate is expected to discuss the report in session on Wednesday and vote on whether to take action next week.

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The report is the culmination of a six-month investigation into Brazil’s pandemic response. It condemns Bolsonaro for his “unfounded belief in the idea of herd immunity through natural infection” and for refusing vaccine offers during the first year health crisis.

“In spite of all the vaccines that were on offer, the federal government opted not to buy them, a decision that went against all of the scientific studies which demonstrated their safety and effectiveness, and against the advice of all of the epidemiologists who declared on a daily basis that only vaccines would save lives,” the report states.

Bolsonaro has been a highly controversial figure since he was elected president of Brazil in 2019. A populist leader, he often draws comparisons to former U.S. President Donald Trump and on many occasions has expressed admiration for Trump.

Bolsonaro has, at times, played down the severity of the coronavirus and has so far refused to be vaccinated.