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Rousseff 'Strictly Followed the Law:' Brazil Senate on 3rd Day

Brazil's Senate continues its much-maligned impeachment trial of Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia, Brazil, August 26, 2016. | Photo: Reuters Brazil's Senate continues its much-maligned impeachment trial of Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia, Brazil, August 26, 2016. | Photo: Reuters
Brasilia, August 27, 2016 - The third day of the impeachment trial against the suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff started early Saturday, a day after the session was suspended following a Senate session that the chamber's president said made the institution look like a "psychiatric hospital."

Testimony from Rousseff's defense began again today, including one from former Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa and Ricardo Ribeiro Lodi, a Law professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).

The special impeachment commission inside the Senate argued that Rousseff should be ousted because she signed three decrees without approval from Congress, and allegedly manipulated public accounts in 2014 before her reelection.

However, a June Senate report proved the allegations were false, after she had already been forced to step down as president in May in a move that has been widely condemned as a coup.

According to former Finance Minister Nelson Barbosa, Rousseff "strictly followed the law" and the impeachment against her a purely "political decision."

"In my view, there is no basis for criminal responsibility of the President of the Republic, or the issue of decrees, or the issue of payment of liabilities with public banks," he said.

Law professor Lodi also said an impeachment cannot go ahead without crime of responsibility and intent on the part of Rousseff.

 

Friday's session saw senators accuse each other of corruption and even drug use. The president of the Senate Renan Calheiros added to the melee after saying that "stupidity was endless'' when Rousseff’s defenders questioned the senate's moral authority to judge her. 

Only three of her six allowed witnesses were able to testify Friday before the abrupt suspension. The majority of lawmakers who are in favor of ousting Rousseff abandoned the Senate during the presentations. Those who were still in the Senates refused to question the witnesses.

Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, Economist at Sao Paulo's University of Campinas, said there was no evidence in Rousseff's conduct to justify the impeachment.

"Contrary to the arguments presented by the prosecution there wasn’t any credit transaction between the Federal Government and public banks," he said.

Geraldo Prado, Law Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, agreed with Gonzaga, saying there is an absence of evidence that supports Rousseff's impeachment.

Finally, Luiz Claudio Costa, former secretary of the Ministry of Education, also spoke in favor of Rousseff, pointing out that the use of supplementary degrees was a practise officially adopted by the state in 2008.

Rousseff and her supporters have denied the allegations by conservative senators and her defense has repeatedly said it will be extremely difficult for the political opposition to uncover evidence of criminal wrongdoing. 

The highlight of the impeachment process will be the testimony Rousseff is set to give on Monday. She will be accompanied by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and a delegation of former ministers, as well as ten of thousands of supporters who have called for mass mobilizations across the country. 

Rousseff’s speech will follow the senators vote and if impeached, she will be replaced by the interim President Michel Temer, who led the Parliamentary coup and will continue to govern until 2018.

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