Assault on power in Brazil: the authorities have arrested protesters. Now they are looking for the security agents

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BRASÍLIA, Brazil — Brazilian authorities on Tuesday issued arrest warrants for two government security officials, targeting people suspected of funding this week’s violent protests and asking a federal court to freeze the assets of the former extreme president. right. Jair Bolsonaro, Sunday a broad expansion of the investigation into the invasion of Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices by protesters.

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The moves showed that, a day after arresting hundreds of people suspected of involvement in Sunday’s riots in the capital Brasilia, the country’s top officials were now focused on the political and business elites suspected of inspiring, organizing or aiding rioters.

Alexandre de Moraes, judge of the Supreme Court of Brazil, has issued the arrest warrants against the two security officers among these Anderson Torres, de facto responsible for the security of the capital, at the request of the federal police.

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Moraes, a controversial figure who has been accused of grossly overstaying his duties, said investigators had evidence officials they knew that violence was brewingbut they did nothing to stop it.

He said they were under investigation for terrorism, conspiracy and crimes related to the violent overthrow of democracy.

Separately, a senior prosecutor asked a federal court to do so on Tuesday it will freeze Bolsonaro’s assets in connection with the investigation into the riots, though his office declined to explain why.

Protesters stormed government buildings under the false belief that the October presidential election, which Bolsonaro lost, was rigged, their actions prompted in part by their years of efforts to undermine the electorate’s trust in the systems Brazilian electoral.

The petition to freeze Bolsonaro’s assets is now in the hands of a judge, but it’s unclear whether the court has the right legal power to block your accounts.

And the freezing of assets, even if not challenged in court, could turn out to be a process long and complex.

The authorities should also take action against more than 100 companies who are believed to have helped protesters, including many suspected of transporting rioters to the capital or providing them with free room and board, Brazilian media reported.

Brazil’s new justice minister Flavio Dinohe said government investigators had targeted businesses in at least 10 states suspected of helping to finance the riots.

Authorities have requested arrest warrants against “people who didn’t come to Brasilia, but who participated in the crime, who are organizers, financiers,” Dino said on Tuesday.

dino and the president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva They said they believed prominent players in the country’s powerful agricultural industry, which largely backed Bolsonaro in the election, played a role.

“These people were there today, the agribusiness,” Lula said after the attacks, adding that “all of these people will be investigated, discovered, and will be punished.”

The moves highlighted the growing scope of the manhunt to identify the ideological, logistical and financial architects of Sunday’s chaos, the worst attack on Brazilian institutions since the end of a military dictatorship in 1985.

Many of the people who took part in the riots had been camping out for weeks in front of the army headquarters in Brasilia, defending the false claim that the October elections had been stolen and calling for the army to intervene.

Military and independent experts they have not found credible evidence of electoral fraud in the election, in which Lula, a former leftist president, defeated Bolsonaro.

Lula took office on January 1.

Although Bolsonaro had claimed for years, without evidence, that Brazil’s electoral systems were riddled with fraud, after the election he authorized the handover of power to Lula. Bolsonaro, who has been in the US since before the inauguration, criticized the rioters on Sunday, saying peaceful demonstrations are part of democracy, but not the “destruction and invasion of public buildings“.

Doubts

In the aftermath of the riots, investigators grapple with difficult questions about why protesters were able to enter federal government buildings so quickly. relief, and whether security authorities were caught, negligent, or otherwise complicit.

Some officials were quick to place the blame largely on Torres, who was Bolsonaro’s justice minister before becoming security chief for the Federal District, a small province that includes Brasilia, on Jan. 2.

That charge made him the main responsible security plans for Sunday’s protest.

After taking on his new role, however, Torres quickly fired several key officials on his staff and then went on vacation to Florida, leaving him out of state during Sunday’s protests, according to Ricardo Cappelli, who replaced temporarily to Torres with an urgent decree signed by Lula.

In an interview given to the Brazilian newspaper on Tuesday or globeCappelli said that, in the days leading up to large protests scheduled for Sunday, Torres assured the federal government that his team was in control.

“What we received was information that everything was fine, that the rally would be quiet, calm and that the troops would guarantee it,” he said.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Cappelli accused Torres of “sabotage“By the way, the security around the protests.

As soon as Torres took office on January 2, he said: “chaos has broken out“.

Coincidence? I do not believe it”.

Federal officials also said that, during a planning meeting held two days before the protests, Torres and other officials promised a much larger security presence. more solid during demonstrations of what they have made.

State officials said they accepted responsibility for the failures but did not explain why security was tight, despite warnings about the possibility of violent protests.

Torres said on Twitter that he would cut short his vacation and return to Brazil to defend himself.

“I have always guided my actions with ethics and legality. I believe in Brazilian justice and in the strength of institutions. I am sure that the truth will prevail,” he said.

Torres has long been a close ally of Bolsonaro.

As the former president’s justice minister, Torres was a key player in the attacks on Brazil’s electronic voting machines.

In July 2021, Bolsonaro announced that he would make his full case on why the Brazilian electoral system was riddled with fraud.

In a two-hour live broadcast, Torres sat next to him and submitted videos in which he claimed that voting machines could be hacked, which security experts later denied.

In response to requests from the federal police, Moraes issued arrest warrants for Torres and Fabio Augusto Vieira, the federal district police chief.

Moraes said the arrests were necessary to protect the investigation by preventing suspects from destroying evidence or intimidating witnesses.

Brazil’s Attorney General has also issued a request for Torres to be arrested, while another top federal prosecutor has asked for his assets to be frozen.

That prosecutor also asked to freeze the assets of the governor of the Federal District, Ibaneis Rocha, who is also accused of allowing inadequate security during the protests.

Hours after the unrest ended, Moraes suspended Rocha from his governorship for at least 90 days.

Moraes, a Supreme Court justice who is also Brazil’s election chief, has become one of the nation’s most powerful officials in recent years after his fellow justices expanded their authority to fight what they call an unusual threat to democracy represented by Bolsonaro and his supporters.

Before last year’s election, Moraes and his colleagues jailed several Bolsonaro supporters without trial for threatening Brazilian officials or institutions, and Moraes forced tech companies to suspend accounts by dozens of prominent right-wing voices.

Some on the Brazilian right have criticized the aggressive response to the riots, saying Moraes and other officials are overstepping their authority.

Hamilton Mourão, a former army general who served as Bolsonaro’s vice president, criticized what he called “indiscriminate detention” of people suspected of involvement in the riots.

The repression, he wrote on social media, “demonstrates that the new government, consistent with its Marxist-Leninist roots, acts in an amateurish, inhuman and illegal way”.

As of Tuesday, police had arrested 727 people in connection with the riots and were still questioning hundreds more, federal police said in a statement.

Nail 599 people detained for questioning had been released.

Many protesters filmed themselves and others raiding government buildings, providing authorities with a wealth of evidence to build a case.

Augusto de Arruda Botelho, Brazil’s justice secretary, said police also collected DNA samples and fingerprints from the buildings.

c.2023 The New York Times Society

Source: Clarin

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