Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, deputy chair of the Senate’s Covid hearings committee — which investigates the government’s pandemic response — said on Wednesday that he will ask the committee’s rapporteur, Senator Renan Calheiros, to recommend the indictment of President Jair Bolsonaro for charlatanism, shamanism, and murder.
Mr. Rodrigues claims Mr. Bolsonaro’s endorsement of treatments such as chloroquine against the coronavirus, as well as his crusade against vaccines and generally reckless behavior — the president refuses to wear masks in the many gatherings he calls with supporters — directly caused thousands of deaths in Brazil. “To cause an epidemic by propagating pathogenic germs can be punished by 10 to 15 years in prison,” said the opposition senator.
Researchers have blamed Mr. Bolsonaro for Brazil’s pandemic tragedy — which has claimed at least 565,800 lives. In a study published early this year, NGO Conectas Derechos Humanos and the Center for Research and Studies in Public Health Law of the University of São Paulo called out “an institutional strategy to spread the virus, promoted by the Brazilian government under the leadership of the President of the Republic.”
Even if Mr. Rodrigues’s motion proceeds, it doesn’t mean Mr. Bolsonaro will be indicted. The committee only has powers to recommend indictments — and in the case of the president, it would have to be requested by the prosecutor general and approved by a two-thirds majority in the House.
Considering that Prosecutor General Augusto Aras has been nothing but docile towards Mr. Bolsonaro, this seems like the longest of shots.