Bermuda Post

Saturday, Feb 04, 2023

Brazil prepares to seek extradition of Bolsonaro ally from US

Brazil’s Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of Bolsonaro’s Justice Minister Anderson Torres, who remains in Florida.
Brazilian authorities have given a former justice minister and ally of ex-President Jair Bolsonaro three days to return to the country or face extradition from the United States, as the government pursues those it says are responsible for a far-right riot in the capital last weekend.

The Brazilian Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of Anderson Torres in relation to the riot in Brasilia on January 8, when thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace to overturn October’s election results.

Torres has denied any wrongdoing and said he would turn himself in to present his defence, but he and Bolsonaro remain in the US state of Florida.

The government of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, which has pledged to investigate those who helped finance and plan the attack on the country’s democratic institutions, said on Friday it had not yet presented a US extradition request for Torres.

Justice Minister Flavio Dino told reporters, however, that “if by next week [Torres’s] appearance hasn’t been confirmed, of course, we will use mechanisms of international legal cooperation. We will trigger procedures next week to carry out his extradition”.

Torres, who was sworn in as Brasilia’s security chief on January 2, was in the US on the day of the riot. But he was removed from his post following the attack as Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who is running the investigations into the riot, accused him of “neglect and collusion”.

The violence in Brasilia came just weeks after Lula, who previously served as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, narrowly defeated Bolsonaro in an October election run-off, setting off angry protests and blockades by the former far-right leader’s supporters.

For months, Bolsonaro falsely claimed that Brazil’s electronic voting system was vulnerable to fraud, raising fears he planned to contest the results. The ex-president’s campaign also led to accusations this week that he helped spur the riot.

Bolsonaro, who left for the US two days before Lula was sworn in as president on January 1, has rejected that criticism. He tweeted on Sunday that a peaceful protest is part of democracy but vandalism and invasion of public buildings are “exceptions to the rule”.

Still, federal prosecutors on Friday asked the Supreme Court to include Bolsonaro on a list of people under investigation after he posted a video “questioning the regularity of the 2022 presidential elections”.

By doing so, “Bolsonaro would have publicly incited the commission of a crime”, the prosecutor general’s office said in a statement.

The video was posted two days after the riot and later deleted. But the office said that even though it came after the uprising, it may serve as “a probative connection” that justified “a global investigation of the acts performed before and after January 8, 2023 by the defendant”.

Dino, Brazil’s justice minister, told reporters earlier that no connection has yet been established between the capital riot and Bolsonaro.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s police raided Torres’s home earlier this week, discovering a draft of an order that would have taken control of Brazil’s electoral authority and potentially overturned the election.

The document’s origins remain unclear, and Dino said Torres would need to share information about where it originated.

By failing to initiate a probe against the document’s author or report its existence, Torres could be charged with dereliction of duty, Mario Sergio Lima, a political analyst at Medley Advisors, told The Associated Press news agency.

Torres said on Twitter that the document was probably found in a pile along with others intended for shredding and that it was leaked out of context to feed false narratives aimed at discrediting him.

The federal district’s former governor and former military police chief are also targets of the Supreme Court investigation made public on Friday. Both were removed from their positions after the riot.
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