Brazil pro­s­ec­tor says Rouss­eff broke laws

Leader ac­cused of fraud in ar­gu­ments that end in tears

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE WORLD - By Peter Prengaman and Mauri­cio Savarese

BRASILIA, Brazil — The lead pros­e­cu­tor in the trial to oust Brazil’s first fe­male pres­i­dent said Tues­day that Dilma Rouss­eff had com­mit­ted “fraud” in her ac­count­ing prac­tices, then came to tears say­ing she hoped Rouss­eff for­gives her.

Speak­ing on the fifth day of a trial to de­cide Rouss­eff’s fate, Janaina Paschoal said the leader had bro­ken fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity laws in man­ag­ing the fed­eral bud­get. “We are not deal­ing with a lit­tle ac­count­ing prob­lem; we are deal­ing with fraud,” she said.

“It wasn’t just that a pres­i­dent lied,” Paschoal said. “The fraud was spo­ken and the fraud was doc­u­mented.”

Wrap­ping up her pre­sen­ta­tion min­utes later, Paschoal came to tears when she said she hoped Rouss­eff would be for­giv­ing for “hav­ing caused her to suf­fer.”

The dra­matic pre­sen­ta­tion came in the fi­nal phase of a po­lit­i­cal fight that has con­sumed Latin Amer­ica’s largest na­tion since an im­peach­ment mea­sure was in­tro­duced in the lower Chamber of Deputies late last year.

Af­ter the pros­e­cu­tion and de­fense present their fi­nal ar­gu­ments, the Se­nate was to vote whether to per­ma­nently re­move Rouss­eff from of­fice. That de­ci­sion could come at any time.

Op­po­si­tion sen­a­tors ac­cuse Rouss­eff of us­ing il­le­gal means to hide holes in the fed­eral bud­get, say­ing that ex­ac­er­bated a re­ces­sion, high in­fla­tion and lay- Brazil­ian pros­e­cu­tor Janaina Paschoal speaks Tues­day dur­ing the Se­nate trial against Pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff. offs.

Rouss­eff, a for­mer guer­rilla fighter who was tor­tured and im­pris­oned dur­ing the coun­try’s dic­ta­tor­ship, says she broke no laws and notes that pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents used sim­i­lar ac­count­ing mea­sures.

On Mon­day, she mounted that de­fense in the Se­nate, ar­gu­ing that she was forced to make tough choices on the bud­get in the face of de­clin­ing rev­enues and a re­fusal by op­po­nents in Congress to work with her.

“I know I will be judged, but my con­science is clear. I did not com­mit a crime,” Rouss­eff told sen­a­tors in a 30-minute ad­dress.

Rouss­eff then took ques­tions from sen­a­tors for 14 hours.

For Rouss­eff to be re­moved, at least 54 of the 81 sen­a­tors must vote in fa­vor. Lo­cal me­dia re­port at least 52 sen­a­tors have said they will vote for ouster, while roughly 18 are op­posed and 11 have not said what they will do. In May, the same body voted 55-22 to im­peach and sus­pend her.

Watch­ing the pro­ceed­ings was Rouss­eff’s men­tor and pre­de­ces­sor as pres­i­dent, Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva, who is him­self un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

He and many top lead­ers have ac­knowl­edged that Rouss­eff’s chances are slim.

Rouss­eff had sharp words Mon­day for her vice pres­i­dent, Michel Te­mer, who took over when she was sus­pended and will fin­ish her term if the Se­nate per­ma­nently re­moves her.

She called him a “usurper” who named a Cab­i­net of all white men in a coun­try that is more than 50 per­cent non-white.

Rouss­eff re­minded those in at­ten­dance that she was re-elected in 2014, gar­ner­ing the votes of more than 54 mil­lion peo­ple she said should not be si­lenced.

Rouss­eff as­serted that im­peach­ment was the price she paid for re­fus­ing to quash a wide-rang­ing po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the state oil com­pany Petro­bras, say­ing that cor­rupt law­mak­ers con­spired to oust her to de­rail the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into bil­lions in kick­backs at the oil gi­ant.

The probe has led to the jail­ing of top busi­ness­men and politi­cians, in­clud­ing mem­bers of her Work­ers’ Party. Watch­dog groups es­ti­mate 60 per­cent of 594 law­mak­ers are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for wrong­do­ing, many for cor­rup­tion re­lated to the Petro­bras probe.

“I ask that you be just with an hon­est pres­i­dent,” Rouss­eff said dur­ing her ini­tial ad­dress, her voice crack­ing with emo­tion.

ANDRESSA ANHOLETE/GETTY-AFP

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