Brazil’s Supreme Court has authorized an investigation into Bolsonaro over the January 8 riots

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian Supreme Court judge on Friday allowed former President Jair Bolsonaro to join an investigation into the Jan. 8 riots in the capital, as part of a broader crackdown on those responsible. accounting.

According to the text of the decision, judge Alexander de Moraes granted the prosecutor’s request, which referred to a video posted by Bolsonaro on Facebook two days after the riots. The video claims that Luís Inácio Lula da Silva was not elected, but was chosen by Brazil’s Supreme Court and Electoral Authority.

Prosecutors from a group recently created to combat anti-democratic activities said on Friday that although Bolsonaro released the video after the riots, its content was sufficient to warrant a preliminary investigation into his conduct. Bolsonaro deleted it the morning after it was first published.

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. .

He missed the Jan. 1 swearing-in of his left-leaning successor and called on President Joe Biden to cancel his visa after he left Brazil in late December to call home.

READ MORE: What a difference in Brazil’s attack compared to January 6th

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 invade the Supreme Court, Congress and the presidential palace 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 opened an investigation into what he called “negligence and collusion.” In his ruling released Friday, de Moraes said Torres fired his subordinates and left the country ahead of 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.

“If his appearance is not confirmed by next week, we will, of course, use international legal cooperation mechanisms. “We will start a court case next week to proceed with his extradition,” Dino said.

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.

READ MORE: Brazilians demand revenge, “no amnesty” against Bolsonaro’s supporters

But the document “will be under police investigation because it fully reveals that there is a chain of people responsible for the criminal events,” Dino said, adding that Torres should 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 had been found in a shredding pile and had been leaked out of context to fuel false narratives aimed at discrediting him.

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

A former governor of the Federal District and a former military police chief are also the subject of a High Court inquiry announced on Friday. Both were suspended after the riot.

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.

AP writer Bridi reports from Brazil.

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