A Brazilian congressional panel is set to recommend mass homicide charges against President Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a leaked draft government report seen by CNN on Tuesday.
CNN Brasil received draft excerpts of a congressional investigation that accuses Bolsonaro and other government officials of allowing the lethal coronavirus to spread through the population in hopes of achieving herd immunity.
More than 600,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Brazil, which has the second-highest death toll in the world after the United States.
The excerpts show the probe’s report effectively blames the Bolsonaro administration’s policies for more than half of those deaths, and calls for murder charges against the President.
However, parts of the draft document could still be changed or updated ahead of its formal presentation.
The government’s “reckless” approach to the pandemic exposed Brazilians to a “a concrete risk of mass infection,” one excerpt reads. Another highlights an alleged “intention to immunize the population through natural contamination.”
“With this behavior, the federal government, which had a legal duty to act, agreed with the death of Brazilians,” it says.
The draft report also recommends criminal charges against 69 other people, including three of Bolsonaro’s sons and numerous current and former government officials.
The final, nearly 1,200-page document is expected to be officially discussed in the Brazilian Senate on Wednesday, the Brazilian Senate Pandemic Parliamentary Inquiry (CPI) told CNN.
Bolsonaro’s office did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. The President, who is up for reelection next year, has previously criticized the investigation into his pandemic handling as politically motivated.
In July, Bolsonaro accused the CPI of ignoring other allegations of corruption across Brazil to focus on him and his government.
“They want to accuse me of genocide. Now, tell me in what country people have not died? This CPI has no credibility,” Bolsonaro said.
He also said then that he was “sorry about the dead, but people who were healthy had little chance of dying.”
Bolsonaro has has long downplayed the gravity of the virus, and argued for the need to prioritize Brazil’s economic health. He himself tested positive for Covid-19 in 2020.
The CPI’s monthslong parliamentary inquiry into the Brazilian government’s Covid-19 response began in May. It has drawn on testimony from top former health officials, including former Health Ministers Luiz Henrique Mandetta and Eduardo Pazuello, and uncovered explosive claims of alleged corruption, including inflated vaccine purchase prices.
In his testimony, Mandetta also said the government knew early on that its endorsement of the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine had little factual grounding. “The government was aware that it was prescribing chloroquine without any scientific evidence,” the CPI heard this spring.
Bolsonaro is now directly accused of committing at least 11 crimes in the leaked CPI report, which alleges the President is responsible for crimes against humanity, incitement to commit crime, and “charlatanism.”
If approved by the Senate Commission next week, the report would be sent to Attorney General Augusto Aras, who would then have 30 days to announce any measures stemming from the report. Aras, widely seen as an ally of Bolsonaro, is not expected to charge the President with murder.
Reporting contributed by CNN’s Rodrigo Pedroso in Sao Paulo and Samantha Beech in Atlanta.