By Jose Enrique Arrioja and Michael Weissenstein, CNN
A Brazilian judicial commission has voted in favor of recommending criminal charges against President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, despite his swift celebration of his victory just days earlier.
The body voted 9-5 in favor of charges brought against Bolsonaro, a former Army captain. They are based on suspicion that he misused government funds when he was sworn in as mayor of Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
It is now up to the Brazilian Supreme Court to pass judgment. Once it does, prosecutors will then decide whether to pursue an indictment.
Many Brazilians believe that the official vote count is rigged, and have blamed Bolsonaro’s victory on irregularities.
Saturday’s vote leaves the president-elect’s fate dependent on two Supreme Court justices.
If a majority of justices vote against the recommendation, the president-elect will still be the victor. If two or more justices vote in favor, the suspect may be stripped of office.
In the case of the 5-4 majority, a majority of votes are required to remove a president. A two-thirds majority is required to indict him.
The controversy centers on the so-called budgetary questions: How much money Bolsonaro spent in 2016 on municipal staff and equipment.
Bolsonaro disputes that he used public funds for personal gains and has refused to answer any questions about the matter in recent weeks. He acknowledged the campaign finance code was used, saying some expenditures “were not intended for political purposes.”
His political opponents have called for his resignation.
“We’ll win any way we can,” Bolsonaro told Globo TV on Saturday. “A defeat can be positive. Either we get found guilty or we resolve the problem, and we will not admit to any mistakes. I have never been corrupt. I will not admit to corruption in my life.”
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