Brazil’s Supreme Court agrees to investigate Bolsonaro over riots

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RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s Supreme Court has agreed to investigate whether former President Jair Bolsonaro incited right-wing mobs that destroyed the country’s Congress, supreme court and presidential offices, a fast-growing investigation that suggests legal ramifications for the extremist movement the ex-leader helped fuel. . build

Judge Alexandre de Moraes granted the attorney general’s request to include Bolsonaro in a broader investigation, citing a video the former president posted on Facebook two days after the riots. He stated that Luís Inácio Lula da Silva was not elected, but rather chosen by the Brazilian Supreme Court and Electoral Authority.

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

Bolsonaro has otherwise declined to comment on the election since his defeat on October 30. He repeatedly raised doubts about the reliability of the electronic voting system as the vote approached, then filed and never received a request to invalidate the millions of ballots cast by the machines. .

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

He called home near Orlando after leaving Brazil in late December and missed the Jan. 1 swearing-in of his left-leaning successor, and some Democratic lawmakers have called on President Joe Biden to revoke his visa.

Bolsonaro’s lawyer Frédéric Wassef said in a statement after Friday evening’s court ruling that the former president “strongly denies acts of vandalism and destruction” on January 8, but blamed alleged “infiltrators” for his far-right demonstration. supporters also declared.

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

Brazilian authorities are investigating who allowed Bolsonaro’s supporters to seize power in an attempt to change the results of October’s election. Among the targets are people who invited rioters to the capital or paid to transport them, and local security officials who stood by to prevent chaos.

So far, much attention has been focused on Bolsonaro’s former justice minister, Anderson Torres, who became the head of the security department of the federal district on January 2 and was in the United States. United on the day of the riot.

De Moraes ordered Torres’ arrest this week and launched an investigation into what he called “negligence and collusion.” In his ruling, which was released Friday, de Moraes said Torres fired his subordinates and left the country before the riots, suggesting he deliberately created the conditions for the riots.

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

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

The minister showed a document found by Brazilian federal police during a search of Torres’ home; A draft decree that would take control of Brazil’s electoral authorities and potentially disrupt the elections. According to experts and the Brazilian Academy of Electoral and Political Law, the origin and authenticity of the unsigned document are unknown, and it is unclear whether Bolsonaro or his subordinates took steps to implement the unconstitutional measure.

But the document “will be under police investigation because it fully reveals the existence of a chain of people responsible for the criminal events,” Dino said, adding that Torres must report it to the police who produced it.

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

Torres said on Twitter that the document was found in the shredding piles and leaked out of context to fuel false narratives aimed at discrediting it.

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

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

The order issued by Judge de Moraes targeted six social media platforms and set a two-hour deadline for the accounts to be blocked or fined. Accounts for a digital influencer, a recently elected YouTuber, a federal lawmaker, a Joe Rogan-style podcast host, and an evangelical pastor and senator-elect, among others.

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AP writer Bridie reports from Brazil.

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