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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Bolsonaro Ally Detained in Brazil for Alleged Coup Attempt

The 47-year-old former justice minister is charged with "sabotaging" police efforts

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BRAZIL: One of Jair Bolsonaro’s most crucial allies, former justice minister Anderson Torres, was arrested in the Brazilian capital last week due to an alleged attempt to overthrow the country’s new administration.

When Torres, who was in charge of security in Brasilia at the time of the attacks, returned from Florida, where he had allegedly been vacationing, federal police detained him at the airport on Saturday morning.

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Two days after hundreds of ardent Bolsonaro supporters ransacked the Brazilian Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential buildings, causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage, a warrant for Torres’ arrest was issued.

The 47-year-old former justice minister is charged with “sabotaging” police efforts to safeguard the buildings because he was in charge of security in the capital at the time of those attacks.

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Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the country’s newly elected left-leaning president, declared on Thursday that he thought the attack had been made possible by ardent Bolsonaristas working in the security apparatus and on the presidential staff. As a bodyguard with a flexible bulletproof screen stood behind him, the socialist veteran said to journalists, “What happened was an alert, a major alert, and we must take more care.”

The latest dramatic development in a week of unrest for one of the most populous democracies in the world was Torres’ return to Brazil, which was continuously covered by regional television networks.

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Just a week after Lula took office, thousands of Bolsonarista radicals stormed the futuristic capital of Brazil on Sunday afternoon. They demolished the three buildings to show displeasure over his victory in October.

According to Lula and his ministers, the rioters planned to create mayhem to incite some violent revolt that would give Bolsonaro, who had left for the US before Lula’s inauguration on January 1, the opportunity to seize power.

During a search of Torres’ Brasilia house on Thursday, police reportedly found a draft decree outlining intentions for an immediate intervention in the electoral court that might alter the election outcome from last year, which Bolsonaro has refused to concede.

In March 2021, during the third year of Bolsonaro’s ultra-conservative presidency—during which a COVID outbreak that Bolsonaro was accused of disastrously mishandling claimed almost 700,000 Brazilian lives—Torres was appointed justice minister.

Torres, a former federal police officer charged with combating organized crime and drug trafficking, served as the city of Brasilia’s security chief before returning to that position at the beginning of this year under the pro-Bolsonaro governor Ibaneis Rocha.

Rocha and Torres have been accused of being responsible for the disastrous security breakdown that allowed thousands of rioters to charge past the pitifully few soldiers guarding the presidential palace, Congress, and Supreme Court.

Also Read: Bolsonaro Supporters Invade Police Headquarters in Brazil

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