Brazil’s Supreme Court approved a request from the prosecutor general’s office on Friday to investigate former President Jair Bolsonaro on suspicion of inciting riots in the capital.
On Sunday, Bolsonaro supporters stormed and looted the buildings in Brasilia that house the presidential office, parliament, and the Supreme Court – in protest over the outcome of the highly contentious presidential election in October, which leftist politician Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva won by a razor-thin margin of less than 2% of the vote.
Bolsonaro posted a video on Facebook on January 10, in which a regional official claimed that “Lula has not been elected by the Brazilian people.” Judge Alexandre de Moraes said in a statement that by posting the now-deleted video that questioned the legality of the vote, “Bolsonaro delivered a public incitement to commit crimes.” He added that although the video was posted two days after the Brasilia attacks, there was a “connection” between the message spread by the former president and the violence.
“It is important to point out that the former President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly engaged in the same conduct for which he is now being investigated,” de Moraes wrote.
The judge requested that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, preserve the video in question so that investigators can analyze its impact. De Moraes has not ordered that Bolsonaro be questioned immediately, saying that a hearing on the matter will be held later. Bolsonaro is currently out of the country.
Bolsonaro, a former army captain, condemned the violence on Monday. “Peaceful demonstrations, within the law, are part of democracy. But depredations and invasions of public buildings like we saw today, like the acts done by the left in 2013 and 2017, are not within the rules,” the former president tweeted, referring to past riots in Brasilia.
Lula, who was sworn in on January 1, suggested that the rioters may have been helped by officials. “We will investigate calmly to see what really happened,” he said this week.
The riots in Brasilia occurred two days after the second anniversary of the storming of the US Capitol by the supporters of former President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021. This prompted the media to draw additional parallels between Trump and Bolsonaro, as the two leaders have often been compared in the past for their style and rhetoric.
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