Brazil president Rousseff presents defense at impeachment trial

World Today

Dilma RousseffBrazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is framed between two Brazilian national flags during a meeting at the Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia, Brazil. April 13, 2016 (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

Senators in Brazil have begun a second day of deliberations in the trial of President Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff, in the middle of her second term, is accused of breaking fiscal rules in her management of the federal budget. She denies wrongdoing and argues that her enemies are carrying out a “coup d’etat.”

Paulo Cabral reports from Brasilia.

Brazil president Rousseff presents defense at impeachment trial

Tempers flared once again in the Brazilian Senate, on day two of suspended President Dilma Rousseff's trial. Witnesses for the defense began testifying on the embattled leader's behalf. Paulo Cabral reports from Brasilia.

On Friday, the defense will present six witnesses, the maximum permitted. They are Rousseff’s former planning minister Nelson Barbosa, her former budget secretary Esther Dweck, a leading economist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, former political investment secretary Gilson Bettencourt, 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.

Rousseff’s defense lawyer Jose Eduardo Cardozo said the debate still focuses on whether there is any dereliction of duty by the suspended president.

“We are hearing the testimonies including two from the prosecutors. Then we will hear testimonies from the defense, and further discuss whether there is any dereliction of duty. I don’t think there is any but we will continue to discuss it,” said Cardozo.

Brazil's Senate

Brazil’s Senate begins deliberating whether to permanently remove suspended President Dilma Rousseff from office, in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

However, one of the lawyers who submitted the accepted request for the impeachment of Rousseff, Janaina Paschoal, said evidence clearly shows Rousseff’s fiscal manipulation.

“This is not the largest controversy. Evidence shows that they used public banks to manipulate the accounts so that they could present a nice governmental financial position to the nation and the world. Any company faking their balance sheets would be closed and the related directors would be charged. Can a country involved in such a case not punish the related personnel?” said Paschoal.

woman holds an impeachment sign

A woman holds a sign that reads in Portuguese; “Dilma Out” during a demonstration in favor of the impeachment of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File)

With 15 undecided voters, 48 senators voted yes for the impeachment, and 18 no, on Thursday.

Several days of debate, including an address by Rousseff on Monday, will culminate in a vote on whether to permanently remove her from office.

The Senate voted in May to impeach and suspend her for up to 180 days while the trial could be prepared.

Vice President Michel Temer took over in May. If Rousseff is removed, Temer will serve the rest of her term through 2018.

Prof. Creomar de Souza on Brazil’s impeachment crisis

For insight on Brazil’s current impeachment crisis and its historical context, CCTV America’s Paulo Cabral spoke with Prof. Creomar de Souza, professor of political science at the Catholic University of Brasilia.

Story compiled with sources from the Associated Press