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Dilma Rousseff to address Brazilian Senate on impeachment trial today

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 Dilma Rousseff. PHOTO:AFP

Dilma Rousseff. PHOTO:AFP

The impeachment trial of the suspended Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, concluded a third day late on Saturday with senators interrogating two witnesses called by the defence.

Rousseff, 68, is on trial for allegedly breaking fiscal rules in the administration of Brazil’s federal budget.

Former Finance Minister, Nelson Henrique Barbosa and Rio de Janeiro State University law professor, Ricardo Lodi, were brought in to testify and said Rousseff did not break the law.

“There is nothing remotely illegal. You cannot act retroactively with a new interpretation of the law,” Barbosa said.

Today, Rousseff will address the senators. She is expected to speak for at least a half hour. After that, officials can ask questions.

Following days of deliberations, senators will vote on whether to permanently remove Rousseff. Of the 81 senators, 54 must vote against her for the impeachment to become permanent.

Interim President, Michel Temer, could stay on the job until the end of Rousseff’s term in 2018.

Accusers presented the case last week, saying Rousseff was criminally guilty and responsible for Brazil’s severe recession in Latin America’s largest economy.

Tensions ran high on Friday after the head of Senate declared “stupidity is endless’’ and strongly criticised Sen. Gleisi Hoffmann, who had questioned the body’s moral authority.

Senate President Renan Calheiros brought up a comment made on Thursday by Hoffmann, a member of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.

Hoffmann – who like many in the Senate and lower Chamber of Deputies is being investigated for corruption – declared that “no one here’’ had the moral standing to judge Rousseff.

“It can’t be that a senator is saying things like this,’’ Calheiros said, adding later, “I am very sad because this session is, above all, a statement that stupidity is endless.’’

Former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is expected to appear with Rousseff today.

Supporters say the effort to remove her from the presidency is a political coup.

Reports show that Brazil’s economy fell 3.8 per cent in 2015 and experts say it will shrink another 3.3 per cent in 2016. Unemployment is at 11 per cent and inflation is about nine per cent.


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