Hearings rapporteur wants to summon Defense Minister

Hearings rapporteur wants to summon Defense Minister
President Jair Bolsonaro hugs Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto. Photo: Valter Campanato/ABr

Senator Renan Calheiros, the rapporteur of the Senate’s Covid hearings committee, argued this morning that the inquiry should summon Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto for questioning. 

Until March of this year, Mr. Braga Netto worked as President Jair Bolsonaro’s Chief of Staff. He coordinated the government’s anti-coronavirus effort for some time, even enjoying superiority over the Health Ministry.

Mr. Calheiros’s remarks come one day after The Brazilian Report exposed the web of connections linking — albeit indirectly — Mr. Braga Netto to the Covaxin scandal. The case concerns a USD 300 million contract to purchase 20 million Indian-made Covaxin vaccines, in a deal that was riddled with illegalities.

Our reporting, with the help of data analysis consultant Ananias Queiroga de Oliveira Filho, showed that key government figures involved in Covaxin-gate have been close allies of the Defense Minister since he led the Army’s Eastern Military Command and headed the federal military intervention in Rio de Janeiro and Olympic Games security operations in 2016.

In July, the government canceled the Covaxin deal following a recommendation from the Federal Comptroller’s Office.