RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian police are investigating several top allies of former President Jair Bolsonaro for allegedly trying to overturn the results of the 2022 election and searched their homes and offices Thursday.
Bolsonaro was not himself the target of a search but, like others, was ordered to forfeit his passport, according to a decision by Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes made public Thursday.
The subjects of the 33 searches police planned to conduct included Bolsonaro’s 2022 running mate, Gen. Walter Braga Netto; a former adviser, Gen. Augusto Heleno; former Justice Minister Anderson Torres and the head of Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party, Valdemar Costa Neto, the decision said.
There were also four preventive arrest warrants, one of which targeted Bolsonaro’s special adviser on international affairs, Filipe Martins.
Bolsonaro’s lawyer, Fabio Wajngarten, said on X, formerly Twitter, that Bolsonaro would comply with the order to hand over his passport. A Bolsonaro aide who is among the search targets was with the former president at the time of the Thursday morning operation, Wajngarten said.
The aide was asked to return to Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, to put Bolsonaro in compliance with an order not to have any contact with individuals under investigation, the lawyer said.
Police said in a statement they were carrying out 33 searches and seeking four arrests in eight states and the Federal District, where Brasilia is located. The probe is connected to an alleged criminal organization that “acted to attempt a coup d’etat” that would have kept Bolsonaro in power after his election defeat against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the statement said.
The group under investigation allegedly prepared before the 2022 election to allege voting fraud “in order to enable and legitimize a military intervention,” police said.
Bolsonaro repeatedly sowed doubt about the reliability of Brazil’s voting system and never conceded defeat after the election. He and his political party filed a request to annul ballots cast on most electronic voting machines, which would have overturned results.
The bid was rejected and the head of Brazil’s electoral authority, Alexandre de Moraes, wrote in his decision that the challenge appeared aimed at incentivizing anti-democratic protest movements and creating tumult.
Lula, who defeated Bolsonaro in the presidential race with the closest finish in Brazil’s modern history and remains in office, told a radio station in Minas Gerais on Thursday that it wasn’t his place to comment on a sealed investigation.
But he added that a Jan. 8, 2023 uprising in Brazil’s capital by Bolsonaro supporters who sought to oust him would not have occurred without the former president’s involvement.
“A lot of people should be investigated, because it is concrete fact that there was an attempted coup, there was a policy of disrespecting democracy, there was an attempt to destroy something we built so many years ago, which is the democratic process,” Lula said.
Last month, federal police searched properties associated with Bolsonaro’s son Carlos, a Rio de Janeiro city councilman, and with the former chief of Brazil’s intelligence agency under Bolsonaro, Alexandre Ramagem.
Police said those operations were part of an investigation into the nation’s intelligence agency and alleged spying on political opponents during Bolsonaro’s term, which ended in December 2022. Bolsonaro was with his son when his home and office were raided last week but wasn’t forced to forfeit his phone or any other belongings.
Previously issued police statements and Supreme Court documents showed police were investigating an “organized crime” group that operated within the intelligence agency during Bolsonaro’s administration and that allegedly used the agency’s tools and services for political use and personal gain.
Police claimed they identified a group that allegedly included Carlos Bolsonaro, which “monitored ‘political enemies’,” according to Supreme Court documents. The group was also suspected of seeking to interfere with ongoing police investigations, some of which targeted or involved two other sons of Bolsonaro, Jair Renan and Flávio Bolsonaro, a sitting senator.
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