Senate inquiry questions suspect’s right to remain silent

covid inquiry silence
Emanuela Medrades chose to remain silent. Photo: Marcos Oliveira/SF/CC-BY 4.0

The Senate’s hearings committee to investigate the government’s pandemic response hit a brick wall this afternoon during the deposition of Emanuela Medrades, technical director of laboratory Precisa Medicamentos. The company operated as an intermediary between the government and manufacturers of the Indian-made Covaxin vaccine in suspicious negotiations being probed by the Senate inquiry.

Ms. Medrades was given permission from the Supreme Court to plead the fifth and not answer any questions that may incriminate her. Senators have already been granted access to Ms. Medrades’s confidential banking and tax records.

After their witness exerted her right to remain silent, Senators decided to suspend today’s hearing and complained to the Supreme Court. According to the inquiry chair Omar Aziz, Ms. Medrades was within her rights to refuse to answer questions that could incriminate her, but the witness declined to comment on any of the senators’ remarks.

Ms. Medrades even refused to confirm her job description at Precisa Medicamentos. “That won’t incriminate you,” complained inquiry rapporteur Renan Calheiros.