Former Brazilian President Bolsonaro under investigation for attempted coup d’état

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is being investigated as part of an investigation into an alleged coup attempt to keep him in power, according to one of his former aides.

Four people were arrested and 33 search warrants executed on Thursday as part of the investigation, Brazil’s Federal Police said in a statement.

“On Thursday (2/8), the [Brazil] The Federal Police launched Operation Tempus Veritatis to investigate the criminal organization that acted in an attempt to carry out a coup d’état and abolish the Democratic Rule of Law, in order to obtain political advantages by keeping the then President of the Republic in power. ”reported the read statement.

Another 48 precautionary measures were also applied, including the prohibition of contact with other people under investigation; prohibition on leaving the country, with an order to hand over passports within 24 hours; and a ban on exercising public functions, police said.

The police have not named any of those investigated, but Fabio Wajngarten, a lawyer representing Bolsonaro, confirmed that the former president is among them in a post on X.

Bolsonaro will hand over his passport “in compliance with today’s decisions,” Wajngarten added.

Bolsonaro has not been arrested or charged.

Two advisors to former President Bolsonaro are among those arrested, CNN affiliate CNN Brasil reported, citing police sources. Brazilian media are also giving extensive coverage to the arrests.

Several former ministers who served in his government are also being investigated, CNN Brazil reported.

Police declined to comment on Bolsonaro’s involvement or the arrests of his aides.

However, the statement said the investigation had uncovered evidence of coordinated efforts to construct a narrative that fraud had been committed in the 2022 presidential election “to enable and legitimize military intervention.”

A “lynchpin” of these efforts were accusations that Brazil’s electronic voting system was vulnerable to manipulation, police said.

Bolsonaro frequently criticized Brazil’s electronic voting system, despite having been elected a federal legislator five times and once president in elections that used that same system.

His criticism of the electronic voting system began before he was elected president, but reached a crescendo in the run-up to the 2022 elections, which Bolsonaro lost to incumbent President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

A second part of the alleged plot involved attempts to plan a coup involving military personnel, police added.

“The facts investigated constitute, in theory, the crimes of criminal organization, violent abolition of the Democratic State of Law and coup d’état,” the statement continues.

President Lula said it was “very difficult” for him to comment on an ongoing police operation, but said he hoped “no excesses would be committed and that the full rigor of the law would be applied” in a post on X.

In an interview with Brazilian radio station Itatiaia on Thursday, Lula also said he hoped Bolsonaro would be “granted the presumption of innocence” that he had not been granted in the past.

This is a reference to Lula’s historic conviction on corruption charges, which was later dismissed.

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