Brazil’s prosecutor-general has presented its first charges against some of the thousands of people accused of storming government buildings in an effort to overturn the results of the October election, which former President Jair Bolsonaro lost.
The prosecutors in the recently formed group to combat anti-democratic acts also requested that the 39 defendants accused of ransacking Congress be imprisoned as a preventive measure, and that 40 million reais ($7.7m) of their assets be frozen to help cover damages.
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The defendants have been charged with armed criminal association, violent attempt to subvert the democratic state of law, staging a coup and damage to public property, the prosecutor general’s office said in a written statement. Their identities have not yet been released.
More than 1,000 people were arrested on the day of the January 8 riot, which bore strong similarities to the January 6, 2021 riots at the US Congress by mobs who wanted to overturn former President Donald Trump’s loss in the November 2020 election.
Rioters who stormed through the Brazilian Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court in the capital, Brasilia, sought to have the armed forces intervene and overturn Bolsonaro’s loss to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The rioters “attempted, with the use of violence and serious threat, to abolish the democratic rule of law, preventing or restricting the exercise of constitutional powers”, according to an excerpt of charges included in a statement. “The ultimate objective of the attack … was the installation of an alternative government regime.”
The attackers were not charged with “terrorism” because under Brazilian law such a charge must involve xenophobia or prejudice based on race, ethnicity or religion.
The prosecutor-general’s office sent its charges to the Supreme Court after the Senate’s president, Rodrigo Pacheco, last week provided a list of people accused of rampaging through Congress. Additional rioters are expected to be charged.
Second Brazilian arrested for anti-Lula bomb plot
On Tuesday, Brazilian police said they arrested a second suspect in a truck bomb attempt that failed just a week before Silva’s inauguration.
The first suspect was arrested on Christmas Eve after the driver of the truck found the device near the airport in the capital Brasilia, where the inauguration happened a week later.
Police said there had been a failed attempt to activate the device.
The first suspect, identified as George Washington de Oliveira Sousa, is a Bolsonaro supporter and told police he wanted to “prevent the establishment of communism in Brazil” under Lula, police said.
An alleged accomplice, Alan Diego dos Santos Rodrigues, 32, has been wanted ever since and handed himself over to police on Tuesday in the state of Mato Grosso.
Police “made contact with people close to the suspect and, after negotiations, this Tuesday (17th), Alan Diego presented himself,” a police statement said.
A third suspect is on the run.
Meanwhile, Lula has removed 40 troops guarding the presidential residence after expressing distrust in the military for failing to act against demonstrators who ransacked the government buildings.
Most of the troops guarding the Alvorada Palace, as the residence is called, are from the army, but some are also members of the Navy, Air Force and a militarised police force.
Last week, Lula told reporters that security force members were complicit in letting the mob storm the main buildings that form the seat of power in Brasilia.