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Bolsonaro faces police questioning over Brazil ‘coup’

Brazilian ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, seen in December 2023, is accused of leading a plot to falsely discredit the election system and prevent President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from taking power
Brazilian ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, seen in December 2023, is accused of leading a plot to falsely discredit the election system and prevent President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from taking power - Copyright AFP/File Luis ROBAYO
Brazilian ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, seen in December 2023, is accused of leading a plot to falsely discredit the election system and prevent President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from taking power - Copyright AFP/File Luis ROBAYO
Ramon SAHMKOW

Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro is due to face questioning by police Thursday over allegations he and allies plotted a coup to keep him in power in the months around his failed 2022 reelection bid.

Investigators say the far-right ex-army captain led a plot to falsely discredit the Brazilian election system and prevent the winner of the vote, leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, from taking power.

Bolsonaro, who denies the accusations, said Wednesday he would only answer questions from federal police if his lawyers were first given access to the investigation files.

“No one attempted a coup in Brazil. That is the great truth,” he told radio station CBN Recife.

Earlier this month, police carried out dozens of search and seizure raids targeting Bolsonaro and his allies and confiscated the former president’s passport.

Bolsonaro, who led Brazil from 2019 to 2022, says he is the victim of “persecution.”

Several of his former ministers and other allies have also been summoned for questioning Thursday, according to Brazilian media reports.

The interrogation comes three days before a pro-Bolsonaro rally in Sao Paulo, where he plans to defend himself against the accusations.

It will be the sixth time Bolsonaro has faced questioning by federal police in a series of corruption and abuse of office investigations since he left office.

– Draft decree –

A week after Lula took office on January 1, 2023, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed the presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court, urging the military to intervene to overturn what they called a stolen election.

Bolsonaro, who was in the United States at the time, denies responsibility, and has even suggested the protesters were not really his supporters.

But he faces growing scrutiny over his actions in the months before and after the October 2022 elections, from his public efforts to discredit the electronic voting system — claims for which he never provided evidence — to what investigators say was a behind-the-scenes plot against democracy.

Police say Bolsonaro edited a draft presidential decree that would have declared a state of emergency, called new elections and ordered the arrest of Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, the head of Brazil’s Superior Electoral Tribunal.

They also released a video of a July 2022 meeting where a shouting, swearing Bolsonaro ordered cabinet ministers to help him discredit the election system.

– Animosity with judge –

Moraes is also the lead judge on the case investigating the alleged coup plot — a situation Bolsonaro’s lawyers tried to fight in court, arguing he should recuse himself.

The Supreme Court denied the request.

Moraes also rejected an attempt by Bolsonaro to postpone his questioning, ruling the president had the right to remain silent but not to change the date.

As president, Bolsonaro regularly attacked Moraes, who has become a hate figure for the Brazilian far-right.

Bolsonaro, 68, has faced mounting legal trouble since leaving office.

In June, the electoral tribunal barred him from running for office until 2030 over his attacks on the election system.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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