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Brazil: Supreme Court includes Bolsonaro in riot probe

January 14, 2023

The office of the prosecutor general requested that Bolsonaro be included in the probe into the January 8 storming of public offices in Brasilia.

Bolsonaro supporters storm federal buildings in Brasilia, including the Planalto presidential palace, Supreme Court and National Congress
Bolsonaro supporters openly called for military intervention after the far-right incumbent lost the presidential election to leftist Lula Image: Eraldo Peres/AP Photo/picture alliance

The Supreme Court in Brazil on Friday decided to include former President Jair Bolsonaro in the investigation into what led to the January 8 riot in Brasilia.

The move comes after Brazilian federal prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to investigate the former president for allegedly spurring on protests which culminated in the storming of government buildings in the capital.

What we know

The Prosecutor General of the Republic (PGR) office said Bolsonaro may have "publicly incited the commission of a crime" with his social media activity.

The PGR cited a video posted by Bolsonaro on January 10, which sowed doubt over the result of Brazil's recent presidential elections. Far-right Bolsonaro lost that race against leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was sworn in as president on January 1 for a third term in office.   

The video was posted two days after Bolsonaro supporters on January 8 stormed the Planalto presidential palace, Supreme Court and National Congress in the capital.

Although the video was posted afterward, the PGR said it was evidence that justified "a global investigation of the acts performed before and after January 8, 2023 by the defendant." Bolsonaro later deleted the video on January 11.

The PGR called on Facebook parent company Meta to preserve the election claim video posted by Bolsonaro. 

Bolsonaro distances himself from insurrection

Bolsonaro has said he is not responsible for the riots in Brasilia. The former president is currently in the southern US state of Florida.

Lula, however, blamed the insurrection on Bolsonaro and his "fanatic" supporters.

Prior to the presidential election last year, Bolsonaro suggested he would not accept the results if he lost. This sparked fears in the international community and domestically that Bolsonaro, an ex-military captain, would attempt a coup if Lula won.

Brazil previously witnessed an authoritarian military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. 

wd/kb (Reuters, AFP)