Thursday, May 26, 2016

Brazil Senate Sets Next Steps for Dilma Trial to Complete Coup
Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff greets a supporter after the Brazilian Senate voted to suspend her, at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, May 12, 2016

25 May 2016

Over half of the Senate committee setting the schedule for suspended President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment trial face charges for corruption or other crimes.

The path forward for suspended President Dilma Rousseff is set to be decided on Wednesday, as a special Senate committee debates the schedule for proceedings of her impeachment trial over allegations of manipulating budget accounts.

Once the dates are set, the first phase of the process will focus on gathering evidence and testimonies and debates between the prosecution and defense.

The Senate committee session comes two weeks after Rousseff was suspended with a 55 to 22 Senate vote on May 12, installing Michel Temer as unelected interim president for 180 until the impeach trial finishes.

The next steps toward Rousseff’s trial also come has explosive new wiretaps have hit the political scene in Brazil, revealing that one of Temer’s interim ministers and the head of the Senate consulted with members of the Supreme Court regarding the plan to remove the president from office.

Romero Juca, who stepped down as interim planning minister over the leak, also said in the secret recording that he was talking to military commanders about the plot, adding weight to claims that the plan to remove Rousseff constitutes a coup.

The Juca leak also laid bare that the impeachment bid against Rousseff, despite being sold as a campaign against government corruption, sought to protect corrupt officials from prosecution.

Rampant corruption among the ranks of the new government and those deciding Rousseff’s fate have already pointed in that direction.

Of the 21-member Senate committee deciding on the schedule of her trial, over half, or 12 officials, face charges for corruption and other crimes, according to data from Transparencia Brasil analyzed by teleSUR.

Five members or nearly one quarter of the group, including the committee rapporteur Antonio Anastasia, have been targeted in the corruption probe known as Operation Car Wash, focused on investigating money laundering and bribery linked to the Petrobras state oil scandal.

Wednesday’s debate and the trial process will be led by committee head Raimundo Lira, but overseen and coordinated by Brazil’s Supreme Court President Ricardo Lewandowski.

Rousseff argues that there is no legal basis for the impeachment because the crime she is accused of, manipulating government accounts to hide a budget shortfall, is common practice and does not count as a serious misdemeanor that would allow for impeachment according to the constitution.

After the investigation, the question of Rousseff’s impeachment will ultimately return to the Senate for a final vote, chaired by Lewandowski. If the Senate casts their ballots with a two-thirds majority in favor of impeachment, Rousseff will be permanently removed from office.

Over two thirds of the Senate, 55 out of its 80 members, voted in favor of suspending Rousseff.

No comments: