Brazil police search properties of Bolsonaro allies

Rio de Janeiro, Jun 16 (efe-epa).- Brazil’s Federal Police said it conducted 21 court-ordered searches Tuesday of properties belonging to five backers of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

The searches were conducted at residences and offices in six states, among them Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, and targeted individuals accused of financing recent anti-democracy demonstrations, including Luis Felipe Belmonte, one of the founders of the Alliance for Brazil, a new political party headed by Bolsonaro; and Sergio Lima, that party’s publicist.

They took place a day after the Federal Police arrested six militant Bolsonaro supporters who had tried to invade the seat of the Brazilian legislature and launched fireworks at the Supreme Court building.

The Federal Police said in a statement that the operation was ordered by Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes at the petition of the Attorney General’s Office, which is investigating alleged violations of Brazil’s National Security Law.

The goal of Tuesday’s operation, according to the Federal Police, was to gather evidence on the financing structure of the groups taking part in “anti-democracy actions.”

During recent protests, some of which Bolsonaro himself has attended, his militant supporters have demanded that Congress and the Supreme Court be shut down and called for a military intervention.

The right-wing president has offered only lukewarm criticism of the militant demonstrators, saying they make up only a minority of his supporters.

Among the six individuals arrested on Monday was Sara Winter, self-proclaimed head of a group that calls itself the Brazil 300, though it appears to include only a few dozen people.

Winter, born Sara Giromini, has posted social media images of herself brandishing guns and said she defends a military “intervention” that would allow Bolsonaro to govern without any legislative or judicial checks on his power.

Brazil 300 members camped out for several weeks in Three Powers Plaza, the giant square in Brasilia that is home to the buildings of the three branches of government.

The militants’ attempted invasion of the congressional chamber and launching of fireworks at the Supreme Court building occurred on Saturday after the police had dismantled the camp.

After they were barred from rallying outside the Planalto Palace, the seat of the executive branch, the small group of Bolsonaro supporters demonstrated Sunday outside the army’s headquarters in Brasilia and held up signs reading “SOS Armed Forces” and “Military Intervention with Bolsonaro in Power.”

Bolsonaro was not present at Sunday’s rally.

But his administration was represented by Education Minister Abraham Weintraub, who is under investigation by the Supreme Court for allegedly participating – along with Winter – in a pro-Bolsonaro “propaganda machine” spreading disinformation via the Internet and also is being probed for a racist tweet stating that the coronavirus pandemic is part of a Chinese plot.

The disinformation campaign is thought to be backed by members of Congress and wealthy business people trying to rally support for Bolsonaro amid mounting criticism of his handling of the pandemic and evidence that he has sought to obstruct police investigations of his family and associates.

Brazil is second only to the United States in confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths attributed to Covid-19.

Bolsonaro, a professed admirer of the country’s 1964-1985 military regime, has been at loggerheads with the country’s legislative and judicial branches.

Some of his most controversial proposal have been watered down by Congress, including one that would have allowed ordinary Brazilians to carry guns in public. EFE-EPA


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