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LATIN AMERICA | 26-04-2023 11:35

Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro testifies on January 8 riots

Former Brazilian far-right president Jair Bolsonaro appears before federal police on to testify on anti-government riots by his supporters on January 8.

Former Brazilian far-right president Jair Bolsonaro appeared before federal police on Wednesday to testify on anti-government riots by his supporters on January 8, a police source told AFP.

Bolsonaro is being investigated for his alleged role in masterminding and instigating the riots, which sought the overthrow of his successor, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who narrowly beat Bolsonaro in a brutal, divisive election last October.

Bolsonaro, who returned to Brazil in late March after spending three months in Florida, has always denied his involvement in the riots.

Bolsonaro arrived at the federal police headquarters in Brazil in a vehicle with tinted windows and made no statement to the press.

The investigation on the ultra-rightist former president, who was in Orlando, Florida on the day of the attacks, began on January 13 through a decision made by an STF judge.

The decision came after the prosecutor's office requested his inclusion in the investigation, citing a video that Bolsonaro uploaded to his social networks two days after the attacks, questioning the results of the 2022 presidential elections.

On January 8, thousands of radicalised followers of Bolsonaro, dissatisfied with Lula's victory in the presidential elections, invaded and vandalised the Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace.

In scenes reminiscent of the January 6, 2021 riots in Washington by supporters of ex-president Donald Trump – Bolsonaro's political role model – they trashed offices, smashed windows, vandalised artworks and called for the military to intervene to oust Lula.

Bolsonaro has denied any participation in the acts of vandalism, for which there were more than 1,800 detainees.

On Tuesday, the STF convicted 100 of the over 200 supporters denounced by the prosecution for having been involved in the acts of vandalism.

The inmates will answer, among other crimes, for attempted coup d'état and criminal association, susceptible to sentences of more than 20 years in prison.

Wednesday's statement to the police is the second time Bolsonaro has returned to Brazil since he left the country two days before Lula's inauguration on January 1.

On April 5, he had to give a statement in another investigation opened for the irregular entry of valuable jewels given by Saudi Arabia in 2021.

The former president faces a total of four investigations in the highest court with potential prison sentences, in addition to more than a dozen administrative processes in the Superior Electoral Court for alleged abuse of political and economic power during the 2022 electoral lawsuit.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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