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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Jamie Johnson, Florida

Former Brazilian president faces investigation over riots as former minister arrested

Anderson Torres, former justice minister of Brazil, was arrested yesterday

Jair Bolsonaro, the former Brazilian president, will be investigated by the Supreme Court of Brazil over whether he helped incite the mob that ransacked the country’s parliament building and supreme court on January 8.

Anderson Torres, Bolsonaro’s former justice minister — who was in charge of public security in Brasilia during the attack — was arrested yesterday on suspicion of “omission” and “connivance”.

Torres was taken into custody after returning from Florida, where Bolsonaro is now staying following his election defeat. The now-former president has taken up residence in an Orlando suburb since leaving Brazil in late December.

Brazil’s supreme court judge Alexandre de Moraes has granted a request from the prosecutor general’s office to include Bolsonaro in the wider investigation, citing a video the ex-president posted on Facebook two days after the riot.

It claimed current Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was not voted into office, but rather was chosen by the supreme court and Brazil’s electoral authority.

Although Bolsonaro posted the video after the riot and later deleted it, prosecutors argued its content was sufficient to justify investigating his conduct beforehand. Otherwise, Bolsonaro has refrained from commenting on the election since his defeat on October 30, 2022.

​In the run-up to the election, Bolsonaro questioned the reliability of the electronic voting system and afterwards filed a request to annul millions of ballots cast using the machines. It was rejected.

The house in Florida where former Brazilian far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is staying

Following the supreme court judge’s decision, Bolsonaro’s lawyer said in a statement that the former president “vehemently repudiates the acts of vandalism and destruction” from January 8 — but blamed supposed “infiltrators” of the protest.

He also said Bolsonaro “never had any relationship or participation with these spontaneous social movements”.

Brazilian authorities are investigating who enabled Bolsonaro’s supporters to storm the seats of power in an attempt to overturn the election. Targets include those who summoned rioters to the capital, those who paid to transport them, and security personnel who may have stood aside.

Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Justice minister Flavio Dino pointed to a document that Brazilian police found on searching Torres’s home — a draft decree that would have seized control of electoral authority and possibly overturned the election.

The origin and authenticity of the unsigned document are unclear, and it remains unknown if Bolsonaro or his subordinates took any steps to implement the measure that would have been unconstitutional, according to analysts and the Brazilian academy of electoral and political law.

But the document “will figure in the police investigation”, said the justice minister.

Torres has denied any wrongdoing.

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