Brazil's electoral court to probe Bolsonaro rallies

By Ricardo Brito
FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a ceremony at the Planalto Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil September 14, 2021. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

Brazil's federal electoral court (TSE) is set to probe the funding of last week's rallies in support of President Jair Bolsonaro, as well as alleged election campaigning outside the allotted legal time frame.

Bolsonaro, who is down in the polls ahead of next year's vote, was banking on the Sept. 7 marches to fire up his base and reanimate his re-election hopes. The rallies drew large crowds and avoided the violence some feared.

The TSE's probe is being led by the inspector general of electoral justice, Luis Felipe Salomao.

"The purpose of the decision is also to find out whether there was payment for transportation and per diems for those who participated in the demonstrations and whether there was content for an early election campaign," the court said.

The probe comes at a difficult time for Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain who has overseen the world's second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak while grappling with rising inflation and a weak economy.

He and his supporters are angry at federal courts for authorizing investigations into him and his allies based on accusations that they had attacked the country's democratic institutions. Bolsonaro has accused the court of intimidation and also questioned the validity of next year's election, citing unfounded cases of voter fraud.

At the rallies last week, his supporters repeated their accusations against the Supreme Court, while Bolsonaro said he would no longer follow rulings by Justice Alexandre De Moraes, who has led some of the most sensitive probes against the president and his supporters.

Bolsonaro later sought to defuse tensions, saying in a note that he never intended to attack any branch of the government.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Brad Haynes, Alistair Bell and Aurora Ellis)

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