Brazil’s Bolsonaro chooses to remain silent in meeting with police as part of coup allegation

Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and some of his former top aides have met with police as part of an investigation into allegations they plotted a coup to remove Bolsonaro’s successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Elonore Hughes
Thursday 22 February 2024 19:18 GMT
Brazil Bolsonaro
Brazil Bolsonaro (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and some of his former top aides met Thursday with police as part of an investigation into allegations they plotted a coup to remove Bolsonaro's successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro arrived at Federal Police headquarters in the capital Brasilia, as did some of his former officials, including some top military advisers. The former leader chose to remain silent.

Supreme Court documents show the alleged plot involved Bolsonaro signing a decree in the event that he lost the 2022 election to declare that the vote was fraudulent, to justify a possible military intervention and convene new elections. Bolsonaro never issued the decree to set the final stage of the alleged plan in action.

No one has been formally charged in the case.

A total of 23 people were expected to give statements Thursday, of which 13 were in Brasilia, according to a federal official, who requested anonymity to share the information. Among them were Bolsonaro, his 2022 running mate and minister, 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.

“Police can begin to identify inconsistencies or gaps in information, no matter how much they have prepared for it,” said Leonardo Paz, a political scientist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a think tank and university in Rio de Janeiro.

Bolsonaro said before the meeting he would likely decline to comment to police, citing a lack of access to documents. “I follow the advice of the lawyers. If they have access (to the file) by tomorrow, obviously I’ll talk,” he said during an interview with CBN radio on Wednesday.

Next steps will depend on the information police extract from Thursday's statements.

Brazilian police earlier this month searched the homes and offices of top aides of the former president and of one of his sons, Carlos Bolsonaro. They also seized the former leader’s passport as part of the investigation. Police said in a statement that they targeted suspects who “acted to attempt a coup d’etat.”

Bolsonaro repeatedly sowed doubt about the reliability of Brazil’s voting system, never conceded defeat and declined to attend Lula’s inauguration, though he left the country and kept a low profile in the days ahead of Lula’s swearing-in on Jan. 1, 2023.

On Jan. 8, 2023, Bolsonaro supporters launched a rampage in the capital.

The former president, who is barred from running for office again until 2030 after an electoral court ruling against him, has called on supporters to demonstrate in his favor on Feb. 25 in one of Sao Paulo’s key arteries.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in