Spotlight: Senate impeachment trial of suspended Brazilian President Rousseff in chaos


BRASILIA, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — The Senate impeachment trial of suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff fell into chaos on Friday, with lawmakers for and against her hurling abuses at each other, forcing a two-hour halt to proceedings.

The second day of the trial began on Friday in a tense atmosphere after both sides had tried the day before to get witness testimonies thrown out for not being “impartial.”

On Thursday, pro-impeachment senators sought to bar the testimony of Esther Dweck, former budget secretary at the Ministry of Planning, while Rousseff supporters tried to dismiss a prosecution witness, Julio Marcelo de Oliveira, for “showing bias” in posts on social media to encourage the public to protest against Rousseff.

Ricardo Lewandowski, head of the Supreme Court, accepted the case against de Oliveira while the defense team removed Dweck from its list of witnesses.

However, rows and chaos continued on Friday morning. This “impeachment trial has gone mad,” Senate President Renan Calheiros said.

Lewandowski suspended the trial for two hours over lunch.

Geraldo Prado, the first defense witness and legal expert from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said impeaching Rousseff for suspected fiscal irregularities is improper.

According to Prado, Federal Court of Accounts accusing Rousseff of fiscal irregularities by delaying payments to state banks and ordering additional loans is unacceptable, since it had deemed such practices legal by previous governments.

Prado said any reasonable punishment against Rousseff should not exceed a fine, adding that the parliament was not empowered to remove a president from office for not sharing her policies nor being unpopular.

Economist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo on the defense side noted on Friday that Rousseff had been cautioning against unnecessary expenses.

“At a moment when the economy was undergoing a contraction, losing income, the president carried out a contingency plan of an extra 8.5 billion reals” in an attempt to fulfil fiscal targets, said the professor at University of Campinas.

The unsuccessful measure “was not a fiscal crime, it was a mistaken economic policy,” he commented.

More defense witnesses are expected to be heard. However, in order to speed up proceedings, Senator Aecio Neves from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party called senators in favor of impeachment to question defense witnesses only when it is very necessary.

On Friday, the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper published a new poll on the impeachment, showing 54 senators for and 18 against, with 14 undecided or not showing their stance. A total of 54 votes out of 81 are needed to remove Rousseff from office.

On Monday, Rousseff will appear and provide her testimony while the prosecutors and defense lawyers present their cases.

Her supporters have announced a “march of roses” to be held on Monday “to face the hatred of those in the coup.”

On Aug. 30, senators will express their opinions about the case.

Brazilian media expect the final vote on whether to impeach Rousseff to run into Wednesday, Aug. 31.

Rousseff was suspended on May 12, for up to 180 days. Vice President Michel Temer took over the presidency on an interim basis.

Should Rousseff be impeached, Temer would complete her mandate until the end of 2018 and she would be ineligible to stand for public office for eight years.

Editor: huaxia