Senator leading probe into Covid handling recommends 13 criminal charges be brought against President Bolsonaro, including genocide against indigenous population for a series of actions that left their communities vulnerable to virus.

Demonstrators pay tribute to Brazil's 600,000 Covid deaths and protest against President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic, in Brasilia on October 8, 2021.
Demonstrators pay tribute to Brazil's 600,000 Covid deaths and protest against President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic, in Brasilia on October 8, 2021. (Reuters)

The senator leading a probe into Brazil's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has recommended that President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with homicide over what his report says are government errors that led to the deaths of thousands.

Bolsonaro has dismissed the probe as politically motivated. It is highly unlikely that he will face a trial on any such charges, which would have to be brought by Brazil's prosecutor general –– a presidential nominee whom he appointed.

The nearly 1,200-page document, prepared by opposition Senator Renan Calheiros, alleged that Bolsonaro deliberately turned down early offers to purchase vaccines, delaying Brazil's inoculation campaign and costing an estimated 95,000 lives.

The report said Bolsonaro was guided "by an unfounded belief in the theory of herd immunity by natural infection and the existence of a treatment."

"Without the vaccine, deaths would be stratospheric, as they turned out to be," the report said.

READ MORE: Unvaccinated Bolsonaro spurns criticism on Covid, Brazil's Amazon

Report could be vetoed and altered

The draft report still needs to be voted on by the Senate and could be vetoed and altered. The vote is scheduled to take place next week.

The presidency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bolsonaro told supporters the probe was a "joke" and said he was not concerned about it.

At over 600,000 people, Brazil has the second-highest death toll worldwide due to Covid-19, behind only the United States.

Bolsonaro has been widely criticised by public health experts for railing against lockdowns, frequently refusing to wear a mask in public, and declaring he has not yet been vaccinated.

He has also pushed unproven remedies for the illness such as antimalarial hydroxychloroquine.

READ MORE: Protesters in Brazil demand Bolsonaro's impeachment

Report recommends 13 criminal charges against Bolsonaro

The report said Bolsonaro is "principally responsible for the government's errors committed during the Covid-19 pandemic" and that he acted against the advice of his Health Ministry in supporting the use of unproven treatments.

In total, the report recommends 13 criminal charges be brought against Bolsonaro, including genocide against Brazil's indigenous population for a series of actions that left their communities vulnerable to the virus.

The Health Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Source: Reuters