By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The first witnesses for the prosecution took the stand on Wednesday (June 8th) in the impeachment trial of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. The witnesses, speaking before Brazilian senators, stated that the Executive branch knew that what it was doing was illegal.
The first witness to speak was a prosecutor from the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU), Julio Marcelo de Oliveira, who testified that the government was aware that it was committing a crime.
“It should be noted that the Treasury officials within the Ministry of Finance, warned [the Executive] of the illegality. And they were not allowed to express themselves, they were ‘massacred’ in the Executive Branch,” Oliveira told senators.
According to Oliveira, Rousseff edited a decree to increase expenses that could not be increased by an executive decree, thus infringing on the country’s Fiscal Responsibility Law.
The second witness to speak was Antonio Carlos Costa D’Avila, a fiscal auditor for the TCU. Rebutting Rousseff’s arguments that other, former presidents executed similar fiscal practices, the official said that the volume of loans taken from state-owned bank by the Rousseff Administration was much higher than anything previously seen.
“What has been identified in the audit of 2014 does not compare to what happened before, in the first and second terms of the Lula [Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva] administration, and the government of Fernando Henrique [Cardoso],” said D’Avila.
According to economists the loans obtained from state-owned financial institutions during Rousseff’s Administration were more than 900 times those seen in prior administrations.
Rousseff has been suspended from the presidency until the trial to decide her fate is over. Brazil’s first woman president has been accused of mismanagement of public revenues, borrowing money from state-owned banks to pay for social programs but not including these ‘loans’ in the federal accounting results.
Trial proceedings will resume on Monday, June 13th, with more witnesses for the prosecution. The trial is expected to run until the beginning of August, when the full Senate will vote on whether to impeach the president.