Brazilian Senate begins Rousseff’s impeachment trial

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Brasilia, Aug 26 (IANS) The Brazilian Senate has begun the impeachment trial of suspended president Dilma Rousseff who is accused of trying to hide public budget deficits through fiscal irregularities without congressional approval.

Staring off the proceedings on Thursday, Ricardo Lewandowski, president of the Supreme Court, read out the order of proceedings to a sparsely filled Senate chamber, with only 28 of 81 senators present, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the daily O Globo, Julio Marcelo de Oliveira, a public official from the federal accountability office (TCU) who made the allegations against Rousseff, saw him accuse Rousseff of violating the Constitution through fiscal manipulation during the prosecution.

“Excess revenues, despite coming from a specific course, can only supplement a provision for future expenditure, if authorized in the budget. (In this case), there was no legislative approval, which means it was a violation of the Constitution,” he was quoted as saying.

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De Oliveira added that the TCU also never allowed such actions to be taken in 2014 or 2015.

The prosecution will continue hearing witnesses until Friday and may extend into the weekend, if needed.

The defence has presented six witnesses — Rousseff’s former planning minister Nelson Barbosa, her former budget secretary Esther Dweck, a leading economist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, the former political investment secretary, Gilson Bettencourt, the former executive secretary of the ministry of education, Luiz Claudio Costa, and a law professor from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Geraldo Prado.

The declarations of each witness will be heard individually, followed by three minutes allotted for questions from each senator and three minutes for answers.

On August 29, Rousseff will appear and provide her testimony while the prosecutors and defence lawyers will present their cases. The next day, the senators will express their opinions about the case.

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The final vote into whether to impeach Rousseff or not could be held on August 30, if time allows, or the next day.

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

A two-thirds majority, 54 out of 81 senators,is needed to fully remove her from office.

If this level of support is not obtained, Rousseff will immediately return to power and the case against her will be dropped.

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.



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