Brazil’s Supreme Court agrees to investigate Bolsonaro for rioting

Brazil’s Supreme Court agrees to investigate Bolsonaro for rioting

Brazil’s Supreme Court agrees to investigate Bolsonaro for rioting

Brazil’s Supreme Court has agreed to investigate whether former President Jair Bolsonaro incited the far-right mob that trashed the country’s Congress, top court and presidential offices, a rapidly escalating investigation that shows the ex-leader could face legal consequences for an extremist movement he helped build.

Judge Alexandre de Moraes granted a request from the attorney general’s office to include Bolsonaro in the wider investigation, citing a video the former president posted on Facebook two days after the riot. He claimed that Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was not elected, but rather chosen by the Supreme Court and the electoral authority of Brazil.

Although Bolsonaro posted the video after the riot and deleted it that morning, its content was enough to warrant a preliminary investigation into his conduct, prosecutors say.

Otherwise, Bolsonaro has refrained from commenting on the election since his Oct. 30 loss. He repeatedly fueled doubt about the reliability of the electronic voting system as voting approached, subsequently filed a request to void millions of ballots cast using the machines, and never conceded.

None of the ex-president’s claims have been proven and the election results have been recognized as legal by various politicians, including some Bolsonaro allies, and several foreign governments.

He has called a suburb of Orlando home since leaving Brazil in late December and skipped the Jan. 1 swearing-in of his leftist successor, and some Democratic lawmakers have urged President Joe Biden to rescind his visa .

Following Friday night’s court ruling, Bolsonaro’s lawyer, Frederick Wassef, said in a statement that the former president “vehemently repudiates the acts of vandalism and destruction” on January 8, but blamed the alleged “infiltrators” of the demonstration – which his far-right supporters have also claimed.

The statement also states that Bolsonaro “has never had any relationship or involvement with these spontaneous social movements.”

Brazilian authorities are investigating who allowed hardline Bolsonaro supporters to storm the seats of power in a bid to overturn the October election results. Targets include those who summoned rioters to the capital or paid to transport them, and local security personnel who may have stood aside to let the chaos unfold.

Much of the attention so far has focused on Anderson Torres, Bolsonaro’s former justice minister, who became the federal district’s security chief on January 2 and was in the United States. United on the day of the riot.

De Moraes ordered Torres’ arrest this week and opened an investigation into his actions, which he called “negligence and collusion”. In his decision, which was made public on Friday, de Moraes said Torres fired his subordinates and left the country before the riot, indicating he was deliberately setting the stage for the unrest.

The court also issued an arrest warrant for the former security chief, and he must return within three days or Brazil will request his extradition, Justice Minister Flávio Dino said on Friday.

Torres denied any wrongdoing and said on January 10 on Twitter that he would interrupt his vacation to return to Brazil and present his defense. Three days later, it still hasn’t happened.

The minister pointed to a document that the Brazilian Federal Police found during the search of Torres’ home; a draft decree that would have taken control of Brazil’s electoral authority and potentially overturned the election. The origin and authenticity of the unsigned document is unclear, and it remains unclear whether Bolsonaro or his subordinates took steps to implement the measure which would have been unconstitutional, according to analysts and the Brazilian academy electoral and political law.

But the document “will feature in the police investigation, as it reveals even more fully the existence of a chain of people responsible for the criminal events,” Dino said, adding that Torres will have to inform the police who drafted it.

By failing to investigate the author of the document or report its existence, Torres could very well be accused of dereliction of duty, said Mario Sérgio Lima, political analyst at Medley Advisors.

Torres said on Twitter that the document was likely found in a pile with others meant to be shredded, and leaked out of context to fuel false stories aimed at discrediting it.

Dino told reporters on Friday morning that no link had yet been established between the riot in the capital and Bolsonaro.

Also on Friday night, the popular accounts of several right-wing figures on social media were suspended in Brazil in response to a court order, which journalist Glenn Greenwald obtained and detailed during a live social media broadcast.

The order, also issued by Judge de Moraes, targeted six social media platforms and established a two-hour deadline to block accounts or face fines. The accounts belong to a digital influencer, a YouTuber recently elected federal lawmaker, a podcast host in the mold of Joe Rogan and an evangelical pastor and elected senator, among others.


Writer AP Bridi reported from Brasilia.

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