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Bolsonaro ally attacks police ahead of runoff vote

October 24, 2022

Brazilian politician Roberto Jefferson wounded two officers while resisting arrest, before eventually being taken into custody. The act of political violence comes ahead of a runoff election set for later this week.

A federal police vehicle damaged after Jefferson fired at police
Tensions are rising ahead of a heated Brazilian election runoff set for later this weekImage: Ricardo Moraes/REUTERS

A former Brazilian legislator and ally of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro assaulted police officers while resisting arrest in the state of Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

What do we know so far?

Roberto Jefferson fired a rifle at Federal Police and threw grenades during a siege at his home in the town of Comendador Levy Gasparian. The attack left two officers injured before Jefferson was taken into custody.

Jefferson posted Whatsapp videos of the siege on social media, defending his actions.

Brazilian former lawmaker Roberto Jefferson takes part in a pro-gun rally in Brasilia
Jefferson served in the Chamber of Deputies from 2016 to 2021, and became entangled in a corruption scandalImage: Adriano Machado/REUTERS

"I didn't shoot anyone to hit them. No one. I shot their car and near them. There were four of them, they ran, I said, 'Get out, because I'm going to get you,'" Jefferson said in one video. "I'm setting my example, I'm leaving my seed planted: resist oppression, resist tyranny. God bless Brazil." 

Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes ordered Jefferson be taken to jail in a decision published on Sunday.

Jefferson had been under house arrest since January on charges that he attacked democracy. De Moraes ruled that Jefferson violated the terms of his house arrest by insulting Supreme Court Justice Carmen Lucia on social media. 

How did Bolsonaro and Lula react?

The attack is the latest act of political violence ahead of a heated presidential election runoff between Bolsonaro and veteran leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva set for later this week.  

Bolsonaro swiftly condemned the siege in a social media post: "Whoever shoots at the Federal Police is a bandit." The Brazilian president, who has prided himself for being tough on crime, expressed solidarity with the officers wounded in the attack.

Supporters of Jefferson protest close to his house in solidarity with the disgraced politician
Jefferson supporters gathered near his house to protest the arrest, while Bolsonaro distanced himself from the disgraced politician Image: Ricardo Moraes/REUTERS

Da Silva, commonly known as Lula, pinned the violence on the incumbent. 

"Hate, violence and disrespect for the law. Roberto Jefferson is not just a criminal and one of our adversary main allies: he is the face of what Bolsonaro preaches," da Silva, commonly known as Lula, said in a social media post.  

Jefferson had earlier called Bolsonaro a "personal friend." Bolsonaro denied that he had ever been in a single picture with Jefferson, but photos of the pair quickly flooded social media after those remarks. 

Earlier this year, Daniel Silveira, a lawmaker from Rio de Janeiro, was convicted on charges of threatening supreme court justices. Bolsonaro then swiftly pardoned Silveira for the crime. 

wd/es (AP, AFP) 

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