BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian senators conducting a high-profile inquiry into President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday voted to recall the current and former health ministers for more testimony, as well as summon nine state governors for the first time.
Senators are grilling government officials and other stakeholders to seek answers as to why Brazil has become the country with the world's second-highest COVID-19 death toll, with more than 450,000 fatalities. The probe may pose a headache for Bolsonaro, who has long sought to play down the severity of the virus, ahead of next year's presidential election.
Current Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga and his predecessor, Eduardo Pazuello, an active-duty army general, will both be called to testify again in front of the Senate panel. Former presidential adviser Arthur Weintraub and businessman Carlos Wizard Martins, who was briefly attached to the Health Ministry, will also be called.
In addition, nine state governors are due to explain irregularities in COVID-19 spending in their states. Wilson Witzel, the former governor of Rio de Janeiro, was impeached in April over alleged graft in the purchase of medical supplies and services to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello and Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia; Editing by Matthew Lewis)