(Brasilia) Brazil’s far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday denied any involvement in the January 8 riots in Brasilia, telling Federal Police that he “accidentally” posted a video that challenged the election victory of his leftist successor Lula.
Mr. Bolsonaro, 68, was interviewed for more than two hours at the Federal Police headquarters in Brasilia, but left without making a statement, in a vehicle with tinted windows.
Shortly after the hearing, his communications manager, Fábio Wajngarten, assured reporters that the former head of state (2019-2022) had “condemned” the “lamentable” ransacking of places of power in Brasilia, and that he had “turned the page of the election from the day of his defeat”.
On January 8, Jair Bolsonaro was in Orlando, United States. He left Brazil on December 30, two days before the end of his mandate and the entry into office of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The latter had beaten him by a short head in the presidential election two months earlier, a victory that Mr. Bolsonaro never recognized.
Refusing the return of the left to power, thousands of individuals stormed the Presidential Palace on January 8, but also the Congress and the Supreme Court.
The attackers easily breached the security cordon to destroy everything in their path, including priceless works of art.
These riots led to more than 1,800 arrests and recalled the January 2021 invasion of the Capitol in Washington by supporters of former US President Donald Trump.
The violence in Brasilia, which shook Brazilian democracy, led Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes on January 13 to open an investigation into the possible involvement of Jair Bolsonaro.
One of the reasons for the opening of this investigation is a video posted on social networks on January 10, two days after these riots, by the ex-president, contesting the results of the election of Lula.
In this video, a prosecutor claimed that the left-wing president was “not elected by the people”, but through electoral justice maneuvers.
“This is an accidental post, he didn’t write any comments [on the video] and deleted it soon after,” said Paulo Bueno, one of Jair Bolsonaro’s lawyers, after the hearing. to the Federal Police.
According to him, the ex-president was also under the effect of medication, as he had just been hospitalized for intestinal problems at the time of publication.
A parliamentary commission of inquiry was also set up on Wednesday in Congress to try to clarify the many gray areas concerning January 8 in Brasilia, in particular the security flaws that allowed the attackers to access the places of power.
Returning from the United States at the end of March, Jair Bolsonaro has already spent about three hours on April 5 at the federal police headquarters in Brasilia, as part of the case of jewelry offered by the Saudi government and illegally entered Brazil.
A source close to the former president said Mr. Bolsonaro denied to investigators that he had committed any crime and that he did not know of the jewelry seized until December 2022.
She also explained that subsequent efforts to return the jewelry were intended to avoid “diplomatic vexations,” given the possibility that these high-value gifts from the Saudi state would eventually be auctioned off.
It was the first time that Mr. Bolsonaro had appeared before the police as an ex-president.
He is also targeted by 16 investigations by the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and could be sentenced to eight years of ineligibility, which would prevent him from running for president in 2026.