The first trial of the Bolsonarista rioters who ransacked the places of power in Brasilia on January 8 began on Wednesday at the Supreme Court of Brazil. In total, 232 people must be tried.
Published on :
The Supreme Court of Brazil opened on Wednesday September 13 the first of more than 200 trials planned against supporters of former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro accused of having sacked places of power on January 8 in Brasilia.
The high court itself, but also the presidential palace and Parliament, were attacked, in striking scenes reminiscent of the assault on the Capitol in Washington by supporters of Donald Trump. Broken windows, destroyed furniture, vandalized works of art: the damage was considerable.
This trial marks a “new turning point in Brazilian history”, declared prosecutor Carlos Frederico dos Santos at the opening. “We have turned the page on coups d’état and all those who remain attached to this idea of taking power through violence and outside the framework of the Constitution must answer for their crimes,” added the prosecutor, while the country is still marked by more than twenty years of military rule (1964-1985).
The riots of January 8 occurred a week after the inauguration of left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who returned to power after two previous mandates (2003-2010). Faced with thousands of demonstrators, the police seemed totally overwhelmed.
In total, the prosecution of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) initiated proceedings against 232 people. Among them, the first four accused, men aged 24 to 52, face sentences which, combined, could earn them up to 30 years in prison. These four defendants – three are incarcerated and another is at large – are accused, among other things, of “armed criminal association, violent abolition of the democratic rule of law and depredation of public places”.
The first to face trial is Aecio Costa Pereira, 51, a former employee of the Sao Paulo state water treatment company, according to the press.
First to vote, judge Alexandre de Moraes, rapporteur in this case, ruled in favor of a 17-year prison sentence against the accused who, according to him, took part in a “criminal invasion for the illegal seizure of power through military intervention. He showed a video shared by Aecio Costa Pereira on social media, in which he filmed himself in the Senate grounds celebrating the invasion.
The second judge asked for a much lighter sentence, of 2 and a half years in the open regime. The defense lawyer said his client was the victim of a “political trial”. According to him, unlike other Bolsonarists, he “did not commit the slightest act of violence”. The trial is scheduled to resume on Thursday. Nine judges still have to vote.
Beyond the 232 trials planned for those accused of the most serious crimes, the prosecution is looking into the cases of more than 1,000 other people who could escape criminal prosecution and face fines or alternative sentences to prison .
Investigators are also seeking to identify the alleged financiers of these attacks, while looking into responsibilities within the army and police. Last month, seven members of the high command of the military police in Brasilia were arrested for “omission”, with the prosecution also citing “deep ideological contamination” within the police.
Jair Bolsonaro, recently sentenced to eight years of ineligibility for having disseminated false information about the electoral system before the vote, is under investigation aimed in particular at discovering whether he played a role in instigating the violence.
The ex-president was in the United States at the time of the rampages in Brasilia. He denies any involvement and denounces “the obsession of some” to try to incriminate him. “From the moment I became president, I was constantly accused of wanting to foment a coup d’état (…). But I never acted outside the limits of the Constitution,” he said in an interview published Wednesday by the daily Folha de S. Paulo. He also accused the Lula government of having “at the very least” let the rioters do their thing on January 8.