Brazilian senators have voted to indict President Jair Bolsonaro for dealing with the devastating Covid pandemic.
A Senate panel backed a report indicting Mr Bolsonaro, including crimes against humanity, following 600,000 coronavirus deaths.
The results are communicated to the chief prosecutor, a Bolsonaro-appointed employee.
The president has claimed he was “guilty of absolutely nothing,” but the crisis has hurt his popularity.
The death toll in Brazil ranks second after that of the United States.
There is no guarantee that this vote will lead to an actual indictment, as the report’s recommendations now need to be assessed by Attorney General Augusto Aras, who is tasked with protecting the President.
The report alleges that Mr Bolsonaro’s government had policies that allowed coronavirus to penetrate the country in hopes of achieving herd immunity.
In it, the President is described as the “person primarily responsible for the mistakes made by the federal government during the pandemic”.
The report’s lead author, centrist Senator Renan Calheiros, called for the panel’s recommendation to indict President Bolsonaro with crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Brazil is a party to the Rome Statute, which created the ICC to allow the international court to take the case.
However, a referral would only be a first step in a lengthy process in which it would be up to the ICC to determine the merits of the case and take it further.
In addition to crimes against humanity, the Senate committee has recommended that eight other charges be brought against Mr Bolsonaro in Brazilian courts, including incitement to crime, forgery and violation of social rights.
Bolsonaro is also accused of misusing public funds and spreading fake news about the pandemic.
The 1,300-page report also recommended indicting two companies and 77 other people, including three of the president’s adult sons.
Following the announcement, Senator Calheiros said that “the chaos of Jair Bolsonaro’s government will go down in history as the lowest level of human need”.
The vote concludes a six-month investigation that uncovered scandals and corruption within the government.
The Senate’s recommendation is due to be handed over to the Attorney General on Wednesday morning. His office said it would be carefully checked upon receipt, the Associated Press reports.
YouTube removes Bolsonaro videos due to Covid misinformation
Throughout the process, Mr Bolsonaro has insisted that his government did “the right thing from the start” of the pandemic and his allies were quick to reject Tuesday’s recommendations as being driven solely by “political and electoral” motivations.
“It is a totally political report with no legal basis,” said Flavio Bolsonaro, one of the president’s sons indicted in the report.
“The intention of some senators in the inquiry committee is to strain the president as much as possible.”
Former US President Donald Trump, an ally of Bolsonaro, said in a statement that he supported the Brazilian president because he “fights hard for the Brazilian people and loves them”.
Today was the end of a long process. Six months of hearings, exposed scandals, shed light on a government accused of ruthlessness.
Leading senators gave impassioned speeches just before the vote. Senator Calheiros said the investigation had slowed death time in Brazil.
The investigation’s vice-president, Randolfe Rodrigues, stressed the importance of the process of putting pressure on the government and speeding up vaccinations, and paid tribute to those who are at the forefront of containing the pandemic.
But for many it is too little, too late – the families of the dead will want to know where this investigation is leading. Will Mr Bolsonaro have to stand trial to defend his actions?
The investigation’s president, Omar Aziz, said the federal prosecutor was under an obligation to investigate the evidence gathered over the past few months – but not everyone believes justice is being done.
In March, Mr Bolsonaro sparked outrage when he told Brazilians to “stop” whining about Covid, the day after the L.