Crime & Justice

Brazil ex-president’s home searched in vaccination record forging probe

Brasilia, May 3 (EFE).- Brazil’s Federal Police searched former President Jair Bolsonaro’s home here Wednesday as part of a probe into the alleged falsification of Covid-19 vaccination records, officials said.

Investigators say the vaccine data of the ex-head of state and several of his family members and advisers was manipulated to enable those individuals to obtain permission to enter the United States.

Wednesday’s operation was aimed at clarifying the actions of an alleged criminal organization accused of entering false Covid-19 information into a Health Ministry database.

Through that alleged scheme, those people were able to obtain necessary vaccination certificates and “use them to elude the health restrictions” in place at the time “to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, in this case the Covid pandemic,” the Federal Police said in a statement.

Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes authorized the operation, which involves executing six arrest warrants and conducting 16 raids in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro.

At least five people have been arrested to date, including two of Bolsonaro’s former advisers and a member of his security team.

The right-wing populist politician’s cellphone also was seized during the raid.

Investigators say the database was tampered with in November 2021 and December 2022, prior to Bolsonaro’s trip to the US on Dec. 30, two days before the end of his term in office.

After the launch of the operation, Bolsonaro emphatically denied either having been vaccinated against Covid-19 or having tampered with vaccination records.

“They never asked for a vaccination certificate anywhere and there was no tampering on my part. I didn’t take the vaccine, period. I’ve never denied that,” the ex-president told reporters outside his residence in Brasilia.

He recalled, however, that his wife Michelle was vaccinated during a trip to the US in September 2021.

Bolsonaro had been summoned by the Federal Police for questioning on Wednesday, but his attorneys secured a delay by arguing that they had not yet been given access to the court orders in the case.

The Brazilian ex-president was the world’s most prominent pandemic denialist, having repeatedly dismissed the coronavirus as a “measly flu” and denounced state and municipal governments for mask mandates and other preventive measures while in office.

Before leaving office at the end of 2022, he also regularly denigrated the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines. EFE


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