Crime & Justice

Ex-justice minister vows to return to Brazil to face arrest warrant

(Update 1: Adds details of Torres’ return, edits, changes headline and lede)

Brasilia, Jan 10 (EFE).- Brazil’s former justice minister Anderson Torres said Tuesday that he will return to the country to answer to an arrest warrant issued against him as part of the investigation into the assault on government buildings in Brasilia.

Shortly before leaving office, former leader Jair Bolsonaro named Torres as public security chief in the Federal District of Brasilia. He was still in charge of public security on Sunday when the invasion took place.

Although Torres accompanied the outgoing president to the United States three days before Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn-in on Jan. 1, authorities suspect that he arranged for police to allow thousands of ultra-right Bolsonaro supporters to storm and vandalize government buildings on Sunday in a bid to topple the new administration.

The warrant was issued by Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who also ordered the arrest of the former police commander in Brasilia, Fabio Augusto Vieira, who was detained Tuesday.

“Today (10/01), I received news that Min Alexandre de Moraes of the STF ordered my arrest and authorized a search of my residence. I made the decision to interrupt my vacation and return to Brazil. I will present myself to justice and take care of my defense,” Torres wrote on Twitter.

“I have always based my actions on ethics and legality. I believe in Brazilian justice and in the strength of institutions. I am certain that the truth will prevail.”

Lula, who was viewing flood damage in another part of the country at the time of the assault, signed an executive order giving temporary responsibility for security in the capital to the federal police, who shut down the riots.

“Prison was ordered for the ex-secretary of Public Safety in Brasilia, Anderson Torres. One more action by the Judiciary to show that the institutions function and will not tolerate barbarity,” Sen. Randolfe Rodrigues said on Twitter.

Torres was removed from office on Sunday by Brasilia Gov. Ibaneis Rocha, who was subsequently suspended from office amid questions about his own response to the mayhem.

Bolsonaro, an outspoken admirer of Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime, never explicitly acknowledged his loss to Lula, a former two-term president, in the Oct. 30 runoff and some of his hardcore supporters spent months camped outside army headquarters urging the military to mount a coup to keep the rightist in power.

Video disseminated in Brazilian media show police watching impassively as mobs stormed and vandalized the public buildings.

The Federal Police said Tuesday that 599 of the more than 1,500 people detained in connection with the events in the capital were released “for humanitarian reasons.”

Their release does not necessarily mean that they will not face any charges, a spokesman told EFE.

The number of those formally arrested stands at 727, while several hundred other detainees continue to undergo questioning.

Roughly 300 people were taken into custody during the riot, while the rest were detained the following day when police broke up the pro-Bolsonaro encampment at army headquarters. EFE


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