Brazil’s impeachment trial to run into Rio Olympics

BRASILIA (Reuters) – The impeachment trial of Brazil’s suspended President Dilma Rousseff will conclude in the middle of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August, according to a timeline decided on Monday by the Senate impeachment commission.

Interim President Michel Temer’s allies in the Senate had sought to speed up proceedings but the commission’s chairman Senator Raimundo Lira stuck with the original calendar that sets Aug. 16 as the deadline for ending the trial.

The decision was a setback for the new administration which is keen to get Temer confirmed quickly to give him authority to adopt tough austerity measures Brazil’s needs to plug a huge fiscal deficit and get the economy growing again.

There are concerns that doubts about Temer’s legitimacy could dissuade some heads of states from attending the Aug. 5 opening of the Olympics.

Rousseff, who was suspended May 12 when the Senate voted to put her on trial for breaking budget laws, was replaced by Temer, her vice president. He will serve out her term through 2018 if she is convicted.

The commission will start hearing witnesses and experts on Wednesday and report to the full Senate on July 28.

The chamber will vote on the report by Aug. 2 and then has 14 days to hear final arguments from both sides before voting on whether to convict Rousseff or not.

The first Olympics to be hosted by a South American nation will run through Aug. 21. The Games were meant to showcase the rise of Brazil as a major world player, but they will take place in the midst of the country’s worst economic recession since the 1930s and a political crisis fuelled by a sprawling corruption scandal.

Brazil is scrambling to prepare sports facilities and Rio public transport services, while fighting an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus that threatens to keep athletes and visitors travelling to Rio.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Tom Brown)

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