Jair Bolsonaro, ex-far-right president of Brazil, at the heart of an investigation for “attempted coup d’état”

Jair Bolsonaro is now banned from leaving Brazilian territory

Jair Bolsonaro, ex-far-right president of Brazil, at the heart of an investigation for “attempted coup d’état”

Jair Bolsonaro is now banned from leaving Brazilian territory. This, after being targeted, Thursday, February 8, by a police operation as part of an investigation into an “attempted coup d’état”, which culminated in the riots of January 8, 2023 in Brasilia.

“In accordance with the decisions taken today”, the ex-president will “hand over his passport to the authorities”, wrote one of his lawyers, Fabio Wajngarten, on X. The person concerned denounced “relentless persecution”.

This large-scale operation, which also targets former ministers, generals and close collaborators of Mr. Bolsonaro, further tightens the judicial grip on the former far-right leader (2019-2022), surrounded by affairs since he left power.

Thirty-three searches and four arrest warrants

The federal police announced in a press release that they had carried out thirty-three searches and four arrest warrants, as part of an investigation into "a criminal organization which took part in an attempted coup d'état (...) to obtain political advantages with the then president remaining in power.” The president in question is Mr. Bolsonaro, defeated in October 2022 in his attempt at re-election against Lula.

A week after Lula's inauguration, on January 8, 2023, thousands of Bolsonaristas ransacked places of power in Brasilia, demanding military intervention to dislodge the left-wing president from power.

Three people were arrested on Thursday, according to the Brazilian press: Filipe Martins, Mr. Bolsonaro's former foreign policy adviser, as well as two soldiers. In addition, four generals were targeted by the searches, including two former defense ministers in the Bolsonaro government.

One of them, Walter Braga Netto, was then a vice-presidential candidate in the 2022 election. The other, Paulo Sergio Nogueira, was commander-in-chief of the Brazilian army before becoming a minister. Another prominent personality targeted by the operation: the influential general Augusto Heleno, former minister of the institutional security cabinet and considered one of Mr. Bolsonaro’s gray eminences.

“It has been more than a year since I have governed and I continue to suffer relentless persecution,” Mr. Bolsonaro reacted Thursday to a journalist from the daily Folha de S. Paulo. “Forget me, there is someone else ruling the country,” he added.

His successor responded remotely: “The fact is that there was an attempted coup (…) which could not have taken place without Bolsonaro,” the Brazilian president declared Thursday on local radio Itatiaia. “He was not ready to leave power, he did not have the courage to pass me the presidential sash, he left crying for the United States because he had to participate in the construction of this attempted coup of State", insisted Lula, while calling for respect for the "presumption of innocence".

" Fake news "

The federal police evoke an attempt to “disseminate suspicions of fraud in the 2022 presidential elections even before the vote is held, to legitimize military intervention”. The plan would have initially consisted of “the propagation of false information about the weaknesses of the electronic voting system”. The police then mention “the practice of acts to abolish the democratic rule of law through a coup d’état, with the support of the military.”

Investigators particularly mention a plan consisting of arresting Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes, the bête noire of the Bolsonaro clan, for having ordered the opening of numerous investigations against the ex-president.

Judge Moraes is also the head of the Superior Electoral Tribunal, which sentenced the former president to eight years of ineligibility in June, for disseminating false information about the electronic voting system.