Brazil’s ex-military chiefs told police Bolsonaro discussed coup in 2022, sources say

Brazil’s ex-military chiefs told police Bolsonaro discussed coup in 2022, sources say
Brazil’s ex-military chiefs told police Bolsonaro discussed coup in 2022, sources say

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Their testimonies, delivered to investigators in recent weeks, augur badly for Bolsonaro, whose political career looks finished and is now widely seen as battling to stay out of jail. ― Reuters pic

BRASILIA, March 6 — The former heads of Brazil’s Army and Air Force have confirmed to federal police that ex-President Jair Bolsonaro discussed a draft decree to prevent the handover of power after the 2022 election, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Their testimonies, delivered to investigators in recent weeks, augur badly for Bolsonaro, whose political career looks finished and is now widely seen as battling to stay out of jail.

Bolsonaro has already been ruled politically ineligible until 2030 for spreading electoral misinformation during the 2022 campaign, and recently had his passport seized by police probing his efforts to cling onto power after he lost to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the election.

Last week, former Army chief Marco Antonio Freire Gomes told police in a seven-hour deposition that there were discussions with Bolsonaro over a draft decree that could have prevented Lula’s inauguration, two sources said.

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That followed testimony from former Air Force chief Carlos Baptista Junior, who last month also told police about the discussions with Bolsonaro on ways to prevent Lula taking power, one of the sources said.

Neither Gomes nor Baptista Junior could be reached for comment.

A spokesman for Bolsonaro, who has denied the allegations, calling them a politically motivated witch-hunt, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Bolsonaro currently faces various criminal probes that are close to reaching their conclusions.

A federal police source with knowledge of the matter said investigators plan to combine the various probes, and are already discussing the charges they believe Bolsonaro should face. The possible charges, which include trying to overthrow the democratic state, racketeering, and falsification of documents, carry a maximum total jail sentence of 55 years.

Once the federal police have decided what charges they believe Bolsonaro should face, it would then be up to the office of Brazil’s prosecutor general to formally indict him.

“Bolsonaro’s indictment is more a matter of when, rather than if,” a source in the top prosecutor’s office told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Neither the prosecutor general’s office nor the federal police responded to requests for comment. — Reuters

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