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The president of Chile impeached because he appearead in the Pandora papers report released recently

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The President of Chile Sebastián Piñera has been impeached by the lower house of Congress, setting up a trial in the nation’s senate over allegations he favoured the sale of a family property while in office.

The vote to impeach passed with the bare minimum of 78 votes needed in the 155-member chamber of deputies, and followed a marathon 20-hour session. Sixty-seven legislators voted against impeachment, including several members of the opposition. Others abstained or were absent.

Piñera is unlikely to be removed by the 43-member upper house, where the opposition has only 24 of the 29 votes needed to oust a president.

The accusation stems from the publication of the Pandora papers, which revealed offshore financial dealings of prominent figures around the world – including Piñera, one of Chile’s wealthiest people.

The leaked documents revealed new details of a controversial deal to sell the Piñera family’s stake in the Dominga mining project.

A contract found by the project suggested that the first $138m (about Ksh15.4 billion) of the sale was made through shell companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Piñera’s holdings are now managed in a blind trust, according to the statement.

The national prosecutor’s office has said it is once again investigating the case, however.

“I want it to be an example and testimony that this parliament is capable of putting an end to the abuses, to the impunity with which this government has acted,” said opposition leader Jaime Naranjo, who spoke for more than 14 hours of the session.

In order to get the majority needed for impeachment, the Socialist deputy Jaime Naranjo effectively stalled for 14 hours, reading a series of documents, until deputy Giorgio Jackson was able to enter the chamber to vote following a mandatory quarantine period after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The minister of the presidency, Juan José Ossa, called the impeachment “a political show, a media show. It’s sad for democracy.”

A pro-government deputy, Andrés Molina, said: “It causes me shame, personally.”

Just before voting, Jackson said: “There are people who think what happened yesterday and today in the chamber is shameful. But I think what is shameful is having a president who speculates.”

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