Former Brazilian President Indicted

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent has years of experience and training in open source intelligence gathering and journalism. He specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs, with a broader interest in European politics. Trent serves as the Latin America Desk Chief for Atlas News.

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Jair Bolsonaro, the former President of Brazil, was indicted on Thursday by the Brazilian National Police on charges of money laundering and criminal association, a source close to the charges told AP. These charges revolve around an alleged case of the former president illegally selling a number of state gifts, including jewelry and others from Arab governments.

An Indictment Amid an Ongoing Investigation

This indictment follows another indictment against the former president for allegedly falsifying COVID-19 documentation with assistance from one of Bolsonaro’s aides, Mauro Cid. Investigators alleged that Cid had illegally obtained false vaccine records for both Bolsonaro and his daughter at the order of the former president. While the official document stated he was vaccinated in Sao Paulo in July 2021, Bolsonarao was not in the city then. Bolsonaro has vehemently denied this claim, saying that he had never attempted to pass off that he was vaccinated and stating to Reuters that “The world knows that I didn’t take the vaccine.”

The Supreme Court has reportedly not received the indictment at this time, but once it does, prosecutors will analyze the document and decide whether to press charges against the president, which would force him to appear in court.

Authorities previously raided properties owned by a lawyer and an imprisoned former aide of the former president in connection with illegally selling state gifts. The search warrant was approved following claims that Bolsonaro’s aides were illegally using government resources for their own personal gain. The judge who ordered the warrant, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, claims the proceeds from the sales were sent in cash to Bolsonaro through intermediaries. The justice further cites messages obtained by authorities in which Cid deals with the sale of statues, a palm tree, and a gold-plated boat received as gifts during an official visit to Bahrain.

The raids followed an investigation into jewelry worth an estimated $3 million given by the Saudi Arabian government as a presidential gift to Bolsonaro, which he failed to declare. The gifts could have been tax-exempt if they were officially sent to the Presidency of Brazil, at the cost of being added to the presidential collection. However, if they were personal gifts, Bolsonaro would have been required to declare them and face taxes on the worth of the goods.

A Supposed Coup

These are not the only cases that have landed Bolsonaro in hot water. The former president also stands accused of organizing and supporting a riot on January 8, 2023 following his loss to his leftist rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters converged on the State Capitol and began a riot, which led to severe damage to congressional buildings. Protestors engaged in vandalistic acts, including setting the carpet of the Congressional building on fire, which resulted in the building flooding following the deployment of sprinklers, human refuse left in various rooms of the buildings, while others were seen smashing windows, among other acts of vandalism.

The riot at the capitol began after Bolsonaro made claims that authorities deemed to be unfounded in order to “spread doubts and incite conspiracy theories.” A number of those who participated in the siege were arrested, with over 100 being arrested within the week of the riot and a number of military officials arrested and charged in the months following after text messages were discovered showing that officials knew of the planned attack and did not take sufficient action to prevent the siege from occurring.

Supporters of Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro destroy a window of the the plenary of the Supreme Court. (Photo – AFP/Ton Molina)

Following the siege, Bolsonaro was barred from holding public office until 2030 for what officials deemed was his involvement in the attack, having been convicted of abuses of power and misuse of the media in the days leading up to the siege.

In investigations following the siege, authorities seized the former president’s passport in a raid that took place in February 2023. Police also issued search warrants against four former ministers, while four former aides were arrested during the operation. Authorities stated the seizure would minimize Bolsonaro’s flight risk as the case for his alleged coup attempt heated up. One officer claimed at the time that there is strong evidence against the former president.

Bolsonaro is accused of sending a draft decree to overturn electoral results to Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes and issuing arrest warrants for Supreme Court justices and a Senate leader. Bolsonaro allegedly modified the decree and pressured military commanders to support a coup.

These commanders included the heads of the Air Force, Army, and Navy, the latter of which had allegedly agreed to aid Bolsonaro in overturning the election results. However, the Air Force and Army heads told authorities that the former president had summoned the two in multiple meetings, asking the pair to support the former president’s claim. The two would ultimately refuse, stating that they would arrest the then-president if he went forward with enacting a coup against the government.

These investigations have led supporters of the former president to claim actions against Bolsonaro are actually a witch hunt with the intent of imprisoning the former president for standing against leftist ideals and corrupt government officials. Despite these criticisms, Bolsonaro stands upon thin ice, with cracks already starting to surface, placing his freedom at serious risk.