Saturday 6 July 2024

Brazil’s Conservative Bolsonaro Reportedly Targeted With Indictment

 Brazil’s former president, conservative Jair Bolsonaro, a target of the new leftist administration, has reportedly been indicted on Thursday by the Federal Police over last year’s accusations that he imported jewelry worth $3 million and sold two luxury watches without paying taxes.

The police report is expected to be transmitted to the country’s Supreme Court, which would prompt Brazil’s prosecutor-general, Paulo Gonet, to decide whether to put Bolsonaro on trial.

“The persecution of Bolsonaro is declared and shameless!” said Flávio Bolsonaro, Bolsonaro’s son and a sitting senator, on social media. “Someone receives a gift, a committee of public servants decides that it is yours. The TCU questions and the gift is returned to the Union. There is no damage to the treasury! Then the group of PFs, handpicked for the mission, indicts the person.”


“Police said in August that Bolsonaro received cash from the nearly $70,000 sale of two luxury watches he received as gifts from Saudi Arabia,” the Associated Press reported. “Brazil requires its citizens arriving by plane from abroad to declare goods worth more than $1,000 and, for any amount above that exemption, pay a tax equal to 50% of their value.”

Police also reportedly indicted Bolsonaro’s former aide, Mauro Cid, and two of his lawyers, Frederick Wassef and Fábio Wajngarten.  Wassef blasted that the indictment had been made public, contending that the investigation was supposed to proceed under seal. “I am going through all of this solely for practicing law in defense of Jair Bolsonaro,” he asserted.

Wajngarten issued a lengthy statement on X, writing in part:

In the entire investigation there is no evidence against me. To be specific: I was indicted for the bizarre reason that I had complied with the Law! … My legal advice was that the gifts received by the former President of the Republic should be immediately returned to the Court of Auditors of the Union, in defense of any doubts regarding questions regarding the public interest. And legal advice is not a crime. … Trying to incriminate me is absurd and reveals the fragility of the accusations systematically made by the Federal Police over the last 18 months. The PF knows that I did nothing about what it found, but it still wants to punish me because I am a permanent and uncompromising defense of former president Bolsonaro. If the intention is to intimidate me, they won’t succeed. Seeing the triumph of the Police State by those who said they were victims of it, used against political opponents, is certainly a dark chapter in our Democracy and will be duly corrected, in due time, by our institutions.

In February, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians rallied to support Bolsonaro, who flew an Israeli flag in defiance of anti-Semitic remarks made by Brazil’s president, socialist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who had said, “What’s happening in the Gaza Strip isn’t a war, it’s a genocide. It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children. What’s happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people hasn’t happened at any other moment in history. Actually, it has happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews.”

Da Silva was sentenced to 12 years in jail for corruption in 2017. In 2019, Brazil’s Supreme Court annulled Da Silva’s conviction, ruling that the judge who issued it had no jurisdiction over the former president’s case because he was located in a different state from where Da Silva lived.

Bolsonaro and Argentinian President Javier Milei, who also is a staunch supporter of Israel, are due to meet this weekend in Brazil.

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