Monday, February 26, 2024

LATIN AMERICA | 08-02-2024 12:33

Ex-president Jair Bolsonaro to surrender passport as Brazil probes 'coup'

Probe into Bolsonaro supporters' invasion of the presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court in January 2023 continues.

Brazilian police said Thursday they were raiding suspects accused of orchestrating an invasion of the seat of power last year, apparently including far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, whose lawyer confirmed he would surrender his passport.

Federal police said they were carrying out dozens of search and seizure operations and executing four arrest warrants in an operation targeting a "criminal organisation involved in the attempted coup," a reference to Bolsonaro supporters' invasion of the presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court on January 8, 2023.

Another 48 restraining orders were issued, with measures including suspects' suspension from public duties and requirements to surrender their passports within 24 hours, police said in a statement.

Police did not name the suspects, but Bolsonaro's lawyer and adviser Fabio Wajngarten confirmed in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, that Bolsonaro would comply with an order to hand over his passport.

Four Army generals were also targeted in the raids, according to Brazilian media reports, including Bolsonaro's former defence minister and vice presidential candidate Walter Braga Netto and one of his closest advisers, Augusto Heleno.

The head of Bolsonaro's Liberal Party (PL), Valdemar Costa Neto, was also reportedly a target.

The riots came one week after veteran leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's inauguration as president following a narrow election win over Bolsonaro in October 2022.

Tens of thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed the halls of power, trashing the premises and calling for the military to oust veteran leftist Lula, alleging, without evidence, that the election was stolen.


'Story of alleged fraud'

Police said the suspected coup organisers "spread a story of alleged fraud in the 2022 elections, with a false account of vulnerabilities in the electronic voting system."

They subsequently acted to "finance the overthrow of the democratic rule of law through a coup d'etat, with support from members of the military with knowledge of special forces tactics," police said.

Bolsonaro, who was in the United States at the time of the riots, has repeatedly denied responsibility.
The former president faces numerous investigations of alleged corruption and abuse of office stemming from his time in power.

In June, electoral authorities barred the former army captain from running for public office for eight years over his unproven fraud allegations against Brazil's voting system.

His inner circle has also been caught up in an investigation into allegations of illegal spying on his perceived opponents and other political figures.

Last month, police raided the Bolsonaros' vacation home in Angra dos Reis, outside Rio de Janeiro, in an operation targeting the former president's son Carlos, a Rio city councillor, in connection with that investigation.



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