Brazil’s top court announced late Friday that former President Jair Bolsonaro will be investigated for allegedly inciting his far-right supporters to storm the Brazilian capital on January 8.
Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes approved the request for an investigation by the attorney general’s office, citing Bolsonaro’s allegations of electoral fraud.
In a video posted on social media on January 10, Bolsonaro said that election winner Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was not democratically voted into office, but was chosen by Brazil’s Supreme Court and electoral authority.
After weeks of violence, a group of prosecutors was formed to combat anti-democratic acts. Prosecutors argued that although Bolsonaro released the video after the uprising, its content warranted an investigation into his conduct before Sunday’s uprising.
He removed the video the same morning it was posted and has otherwise remained largely quiet since losing in October. election on the 30th, choosing to skip the Jan. 1 inauguration of his left-leaning opponent and take up residence in Florida from December.
De Moraes, one of Bolsonaro’s political rivals, wrote that Bolsonaro’s history of attacking Brazilian government institutions, including the Supreme Court, “may have contributed, in a very relevant way, to the emergence of criminal and terrorist acts.” according to the New York Times.
Until his election defeat, Bolsonaro repeatedly questioned the reliability of his country’s electronic voting system, and officials pushed to cancel millions of ballots cast using the machines. He never conceded.
After the court’s late-night ruling on Friday, Bolsonaro’s attorney, Frédéric Vassef, said in a statement that the former president “categorically repudiates the acts of vandalism and destruction” but said the riots were carried out by alleged “instigators” — a claim. which his supporters have echoed.
Bolsonaro “never had any connection or involvement with these spontaneous social movements,” Wassef said.
In the immediate aftermath of the riots, Brazilian authorities immediately arrested more than 1,000 protesters out of the roughly 5,000 who showed up on Sunday.
Authorities have since said they plan to expand their efforts to prosecute businessmen who may have paid for rioters to travel to the capital and security personnel who stood idly by as rioters infiltrated the Supreme Court, Congress and the presidential palace to try to overturn the elections.
Prosecutors have focused their attention on Bolsonaro’s former justice minister, Anderson Torres, who was appointed head of security for the federal district on January 2 and was in the US on the day of the riots.
De Moraes ordered Torres’ arrest this week and has launched an investigation into his actions, which he described as “neglect and collusion”. Justice said Torres fired subordinates and fled the country before the uprising, suggesting he was deliberately setting the stage for the unrest.
Torres has been given three days to return to Brazil or authorities will seek his extradition, Justice Minister Flavio Dino said on Friday.
“If by next week his appearance has not been confirmed, of course we will use mechanisms of international legal cooperation. We will activate procedures next week to effect his extradition,” Dino said.
On Tuesday, Torres said on Twitter that he would leave his US vacation to return to Brazil to present his defense, but as of Friday he had not yet returned.
During a search of Torres’ home, federal police reportedly discovered a draft decree that, if signed by Bolsonaro, would have seized control of Brazil’s electoral authority and forced new elections.
The source and authenticity of the document are unclear, and it remains unknown whether Bolsonaro or his subordinates took steps to implement the measure, which would be unconstitutional, according to analysts and the Brazilian Academy of Electoral and Political Law.
The document “will be included in the police investigation, because it reveals even more fully the existence of a chain of people responsible for the criminal events,” Dino said.
If he does not launch an investigation against the document’s author or report its existence, Torres could be charged with dereliction of duty, Mario Sérgio Lima, a political analyst at Medley Advisors, told The Associated Press.
Torres said on Twitter that the document was likely found in a pile meant to be thrown away and claimed it was leaked out of context to discredit him.
Dino told reporters on Friday morning that a link between the capital’s uprising and Bolsonaro had not yet been proven. If Bolsonaro is found guilty of inciting riots, he could face up to six months in prison, according to the Times.
Ibaneis Rocha, the governor who was also in charge of security in the capital, is also under scrutiny. De Moraes suspended Mr. Rocha from his position as governor for at least 90 days.
By postal cables