Defense witnesses testify in trial of Brazil's president

The domes of the the National Congress building, designed by the late Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer, are illuminated as the sun rises on the first day of the impeachment trial of suspended President Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. Brazil's Senate on Thursday began deliberating whether to permanently remove Rousseff from office, the final step in a leadership fight that has paralyzed Congress and cast a pall over a nation in the midst of a severe recession. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
Brazil's Senate begins day two of deliberating whether to permanently remove suspended President Dilma Rousseff from office, in Brasilia, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. The second day of the trial turned into a yelling match and was temporarily suspended on Friday after the head of Senate declared "stupidity is endless" and sharply criticized a colleague who had questioned the body's moral authority. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

SAO PAULO — Brazilian senators on Saturday questioned the last two witnesses summoned by the defense for President Dilma Rousseff in her impeachment trial for allegedly breaking fiscal rules in the management of the federal budget.

In the third day of deliberations, senators questioned former Finance Minister Nelson Henrique Barbosa and Rio de Janeiro State University law professor Ricardo Lodi.

Several days of debate, including an address by Rousseff on Monday, will culminate in a vote on whether to permanently remove her from office.

The Senate voted in May to impeach and suspend her for up to 180 days while the trial could be prepared.

Vice President Michel Temer took over in May. If Rousseff is removed, Temer will serve the rest of her term through 2018.

She and her supporters say the attempts to remove her from office amount to a coup d'état.

Rousseff is accused of illegally shifting funds between government budgets. Opposition parties say that was to boost public spending and shore up support while masking the depths of deficits. They claim that her maneuvers exacerbated a severe recession in Latin America's largest economy.

Rousseff and her supporters claim that corrupt lawmakers want to oust her so they can water down an investigation into billions of dollars in kickbacks at state oil company Petrobras.

The two-year investigation has led to the jailing of dozens of businessmen and politicians, and threatens to bring down many more.

On Friday, Rousseff's defense called experts to testify and answer questions, a day after the prosecution dominated Thursday's session.

Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, an economist, argued that Rousseff had not broken so-called fiscal responsibility laws. He said that instead of hiding government spending, as critics argue, in early 2015 she was coming up with contingency plans to maintain spending in the face of declining revenues.

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