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Rousseff Legal Team Argues Before Senate Impeachment Hearing

  • Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attends a news conference with foreign media in Brasilia, June 14, 2016.

    Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attends a news conference with foreign media in Brasilia, June 14, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 July 2016

Senators are hearing legal arguments from Dilma Rousseff’s defense team on Wednesday.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff presented her written defense to a Senate impeachment trial Wednesday, denouncing the proceedings as a farce and saying her alleged crimes were no more than "routine acts of budgetary management."

"Everybody knows that you are judging an honest woman, a public servant dedicated to just causes," the suspended leftist leader said in a document read aloud by her lawyer and former Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo. "I've honored those who voted for me."

Her defense made clear she is sticking to the strategy of refuting the impeachment process as a soft "coup" led by her one-time vice-president Michel Temer, a conservative who has taken over since mid-May when the Senate voted to try Rousseff.

"What most hurts right now is the injustice," Rousseff said. "What hurts most is to perceive that I am the victim of a judicial and political farce."

Rousseff said she believes she is being targeted because she "never gave in to blackmail. I never accepted ... the backroom deals so well known in the traditional politics of our country."

As part of the preliminary arguments which began Tuesday, senators heard from witness experts who testified on behalf of Rousseff, arguing that she had not violated the country’s Fiscal Responsibility Laws.

Senate Report Clears Rousseff of Budget Manipulation

Rousseff announced via social media on Tuesday that she would not appear at the Senate hearings, and will instead be represented by her lawyer José Eduardo Cardozo.

"We are evaluating my attendence at the Senate, for a another moment," Rousseff stated via Twitter.

Support for Rousseff’s ousting is strong in the Senate, but has drawn massive protests by supporters across the country. In May, two-thirds of senators voted in favor to suspend Rousseff for alleged violation of fiscal rules.

According to a June report conducted by a group of independent auditors hired by the Brazilian Senate, Rousseff did not manipulate accounting maneuvers for which she was charged.

The 223-page report by three auditors found Rousseff did not cook the books in the lead up to her 2014 presidential reelection, dealing a blow to accusations from her rivals that she manipulated government accounts to hide a budget shortfall and delayed payments to public banks.

The budget charges have been the key justification behind the impeachment process against Rousseff.

Rousseff's attorney, Eduardo Cardoza, argued that the new report is "fatal" for the accusations against her, the Brazilian daily O Globo reported. The suspended president has long maintained her innocence and argued there is no legal basis for impeachment, which she has labeled a "coup" against her government.

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