Politics

Bolsonaro bows to Brazil high court, withdraws pick for nat’l police chief

By Maria Angelica Troncoso

Brasilia, Apr 29 (efe-epa).- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday bowed to the will of the country’s Supreme Court and withdrew his nomination of Alexandre Ramagem, a friend of his family, for the post of Federal Police director.

The decision came a few hours after a high court magistrate suspended Ramagem’s nomination after hearing an appeal by a center-left political party complaining about the close links of friendship uniting the nominee with Bolsonaro’s family.

Ramagem, who will remain head of the Brazilian secret service, was to have replaced Federal Police director Mauricio Valeixo, who was fired last week by Bolsonaro.

The nomination had angered Sergio Moro, who resigned as justice minister, sparking a political crisis within the government.

According to Moro, who is internationally recognized for his work against corruption in the “Lava Jato” (Car Wash) corruption case, the nomination decision constituted alleged “political interference” by Bolsonaro in the police.

Ramagem – who is in tight with the “Bolsonaro clan” comprising the president and three of his sons: Flavio, a senator; federal lawmaker Eduardo and Rio de Janeiro councilman Carlos – was the person with whom the ultrarightist leader hoped to be able to establish the communication that he did not enjoy with Valeixo, something that the president has publicly acknowledged.

The fact that the president wanted a close ally at his side – and Ramagem became a close personal friend of the family after having worked as head of security during Bolsonaro’s election campaign – was considered by the Democratic Labor Party to be an “abuse of power,” according to the complaint it presented to the high court.

Magistrate Alexandre de Moraes, who responded to the request, said that the nomination had “not met the constitutional principles of impersonality, morality and the public interest,” adding that “in a republican system, there is no absolute or unlimited power because that would be the negation of the rule of law.”

In his decision, he cited the accusations by Moro claiming that Bolsonaro wanted to have a “personal contact” in charge of the Federal Police “whom he could call, (have) gather information, (have) gather intelligence reports.”

Moro’s explosive statements became known when he announced his resignation last Friday and they led the high court on Monday to authorize an investigation into the serious accusations against Bolsonaro after a request by the Attorney General’s Office.

According to De Moraes, the accusations on which the president was investigated were confirmed by Bolsonaro at a press conference on the same day they were revealed by the ex-judge, saying that he had received no information from the Federal Police and that he, as president, should “have a report ever day about what happened, especially in the last 24 hours, to make good decisions about the country’s future.”

That, the judge argued, should be considered along with the fact that “the Federal Police is not an intelligence agency of the President of the Republic.”

Despite De Moraes’ ruling, Bolsonaro on Wednesday publicly expressed his “respect” for the Supreme Court during the swearing in of the new justice minister, Andre Mendonca, who up to now had served as attorney general and who will replace Moro.

Bolsonaro’s nomination of a close ally to head the Federal Police set off warning bells in various quarters because that law enforcement organization is currently conducting investigations involving the Bolsonaro clan.

One of those cases concerns the dissemination on the social networks of fake news suspected of being prepared by groups directly linked to Carlos Bolsonaro and to a so-called “hate cabinet” being operated from the presidential palace.

Another case is focused on trying to determine if Flavio Bolsonaro, when he was a regional lawmaker in Rio de Janeiro, participated in fraud and moneylaundering by hiring “ghost” employees.

EFE

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