Jair Bolsonaro Under Investigation For COVID19 Vaccine Corruption Amid Global Protests
Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber authorized a criminal investigation into Jair Bolosnaro's response to allegations of potential corruption involving a vaccine deal. The Supreme Court Justice said the investigation is backed up by testimony given to a Senate committee that is reviewing the government's response to COVID-19. The judge didn’t rule out the possibility of expanding the investigation other potential wrongdoings.
What is being investigated?
An investigation was launched after Health Ministry official Luis Ricardo Miranda reported he was under intense pressure to approve the importation of 20 million vaccines from the Indian pharmaceutical Bharat Biotech. Invoices included irregularities, including a $45 million upfront payment to a Singapore-based firm.
Luis Ricardo Miranda and his brother both testified that they took their concerns directly to Bolsonaro, who promised to report the irregularities to the Federal Police. However, the Federal Police did not receive any investigation requests.
What would Bolsonaro be charged with?
The prosecution will investigate whether Bolsonaro committed the crime of prevarication, which involves delaying or refraining from action required as part of a public official's duty based on personal interests. Once the investigation concludes, Senators are expected to hold a vote to recommend Bolsonaro be indicted for prevarication which could carry a prison sentence.
What is the Bolsonaro government's response?
Onyx Lorenzoni, the secretary-general of the presidency, confirmed Bolsonaro met with the Miranda brothers but says they presented fraudulent documents and were ordered to be investigated. Bolsonaro reiterated his denial of any wrongdoing or corruption within his government.
How did the public react?
Protests against President Jair Bolsonaro spread worldwide on Saturday, with protestors gathering by the thousands in more than 40 cities to demand Jair Bolsonaro’s impeachment and greater access to Covid19 vaccines. Anti-Bolsonaro protests were reported to have taken place in many of Brazil’s top cities, including Belém, Recife, São Paulo and Brasília, as well as European cities including London, Barcelona and Dublin. According to official figures, more than 522,000 Brazilians have died from COVID19, second only to the United States. The number of deaths is expected to rise due to Bolsonaro's failure to address the virus appropriately and his horrific dismissal of the dangers of the virus.