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In Brazil, in 2016, their president was suspended while being tried by the Senate, which also removed her from office in the end. The suspension vote took place in the Senate as well.

Was this suspension optional from a law/procedure standpoint? I.e. could the actual trial in the Senate have proceeded without suspending the president first?

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If the Chamber of Deputies votes to impeach the President, then the President is suspended as per Article 86 of the Constitution:

If two-thirds of the Chamber of Deputies accept an accusation against the President of the Republic, he shall be tried before the Supreme Federal Tribunal for common criminal offenses or before the Federal Senate for impeachable offenses.

§1°. The President shall be suspended from his duties:

I. in common criminal offenses, if the accusation or criminal complaint is received by the Supreme Federal Tribunal;

II. in impeachable offenses, after proceedings are instituted by the Federal Senate.

§2°. If, after a period of one hundred eighty days, the trial has not been concluded, the President's suspension shall end, without prejudice to normal progress of the proceedings.

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