Brazil charges dozens in pro-Bolsonaro riots; more expected

Jan 16, 2023, 7:49 PM | Updated: Jan 17, 2023, 8:40 pm
Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who were arrested after the storming of pub...

Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who were arrested after the storming of public buildings are taken by bus to a federal prison as they leave the Federal Police Academy in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Gustavo Moreno)

(AP Photo/Gustavo Moreno)

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — The office of Brazil’s prosecutor-general has presented its first charges against some of the thousands of people who authorities say stormed government buildings in an effort to overturn former President Jair Bolsonaro’s loss in the October election.

The prosecutors in the recently formed group to combat anti-democratic acts also have requested that the 39 defendants who ransacked Congress be imprisoned as a preventive measure, and that 40 million reais ($7.7 million) of their assets be frozen to help cover damages.

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 Monday night. Their identities have not yet been released.

More than a thousand people were arrested on the day of the Jan. 8 riot, which bore strong similarities to the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Congress by mobs who wanted to overturn former President Donald Trump’s loss in November’s election.

Rioters who stormed through the Brazilian Congress, the presidential palace and the 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.

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Brazil charges dozens in pro-Bolsonaro riots; more expected