Brazil’s Rousseff gives impassioned defence against impeachment

BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters) – Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff presented her written defense to a Senate impeachment trial yesterday, 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 honoured those who voted for me.”

Dilma Rousseff
Dilma Rousseff

Rousseff’s removal would mark an end to 13 years of leftist rule over Latin America’s largest economy by the Workers Party that began in 2003 under her mentor, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

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.

Rousseff has repeatedly said her impeachment is an attempt by Temer and other right-leaning members of her one-time governing coalition partner, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), to remove her because she did not impede a sweeping probe of corruption at state-run oil company Petrobras .

That investigation has ensnared dozens of top politicians, including the former speaker of the lower house of Brazil’s Congress, who led the impeachment campaign against Rousseff.

Rousseff herself is not directly accused of corruption. But Brazil’s chief prosecutor has asked for her to be investigated for obstructing justice in the Petrobras case. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Her impeachment is technically focused on accusations that she broke fiscal laws by disguising the size of the budget deficit to make the economy look healthier in the run-up to her 2014 re-election.

Rousseff has said her budget

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