São Paulo, Feb. 8 (EFE) – Former President Jair Bolsonaro and several of his closest allies, including former ministers and high-ranking military officers, were targeted on Thursday by Brazil’s Federal Police in an investigation into the Jan. 8 2023 attempted coup.
The Federal Police said in a memo that it was trying to clarify whether the individuals under investigation were part of a “criminal organization” that acted “in the coup attempt” to overthrow Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had been inaugurated a week earlier, and keep Bolsonaro in power after he lost his re-election bid.
Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered the former president to surrender his passport within 24 hours and banned him from having contact with other defendants in the investigation.
Bolsonaro was already under scrutiny for inciting his supporters to seize power by force, but Thursday’s police investigation is looking into him and his associates’ alleged involvement in planning the coup attempt.
On Thursday, agents served 33 search warrants, four preventive arrest warrants and imposed 48 precautionary measures on suspects in a dozen Brazilian states.
According to the newspaper O Globo, those arrested were: Filipe Martins, a close advisor to Bolsonaro during his time in office; army colonels Marcelo Câmara and Bernardo Romão Corrêa Netto; and Rafael Martins, a major in the army’s special forces.
Among the suspects searched were former Justice Minister Anderson Torres and Valdemar Costa Neto, president of the Liberal Party, the party of the former Brazilian president.
Former army generals and cabinet members Walter Braga Netto, Augusto Heleno and Paulo Sérgio Nogueira, and former navy commander Admiral Garnier Santos were also raided.
Former vice president calls on armed forces During a speech in the upper house on Thursday, Bolsonaro’s former vice president, Hamilton Mourão, a reserve general and current senator, called on the armed forces not to “ignore” what he called “arbitrary” and “illegal” operations by the police.
“The armed forces and their commanders cannot ignore the arbitrary conduct of illegal trials that reach their members outside the military justice system,” Mourão charged, referring to the former high-ranking military officers targeted by the crackdown.
According to Mourão, who has been distanced from Bolsonaro for the past two years, the operation authorized by the Supreme Court indicates that Brazil is “moving towards a totalitarian regime,” against which it is necessary to mobilize “peacefully and within the law.”
“The way events are unfolding points to the unfortunate possibility of a confrontation with very serious consequences,” the senator declared, after claiming that “even Hitler did not dare to do this”.
The coup attempt
After losing the elections, Bolsonaro refused to recognize the results, and although he was in the United States at the time of the attacks in Brasilia on Jan. 8, 2023, police investigations place him in several meetings with advisors and the military to discuss the possibility of a coup.
The probe that led to Thursday’s operation points out that the group under scrutiny tried to spread allegations of fraud in the 2022 elections “in order to legitimize a military intervention.”
And a second action cell tried to “subsidize the abolition of the democratic rule of law through a coup d’état, with the support of military personnel.”
These actions culminated in the attacks of Jan. 8, 2023, when thousands of Bolsonaro supporters invaded and destroyed the headquarters in Brasilia of the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court, in a desperate attempt to overthrow the Lula government that had taken power a week earlier.EFE