Presumed Guilty

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A Brazilian congressional probe found that former populist President Jair Bolsonaro should face criminal charges for plotting a coup in response to losing the 2022 presidential elections to leftist candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Bloomberg reported.

The findings are part of a report by Senator Eliziane Gama, who is leading the investigation into the riots that ransacked the country’s main governmental bodies in the capital Brasilia earlier this year.

Gama’s report also recommended that the former leader should be indicted on three other charges related to the Brasilia riots on Jan. 8 that saw thousands of Bolsonaro supporters storming government buildings, including the presidential palace and supreme court, in a bid to undermine Lula’s victory.

The report asserts the former president was the “author” of the attempted insurrection, while also accusing other top members of his cabinet and senior military officials of participating in efforts to overturn the election result.

Bolsonaro and those officials have not commented on the charges.

The congressional committee, comprising members from both houses of parliament, voted its approval of the report Wednesday by 20 votes to 11, passing it without any amendments, Reuters reported. It will be up to the Brazilian police whether to pursue indictments based on the committee’s recommendations.

The Jan. 8 riots have been described as the most explicit assault on Brazil’s democratic structures since a military coup in 1964 gave rise to a 20-year military dictatorship.

Bolsonaro has to date never formally conceded the election, following almost a year of questioning the legitimacy of Brazil’s electoral system. Shortly before Lula’s inauguration on Jan. 1, the conservative leader left Brazil and remained in the US for three months.

He has denied any responsibility for the riots. Meanwhile, he is currently facing legal troubles both related and unrelated to the election.

In June, Brazil’s electoral court barred him from holding office for eight years over his claims during a meeting with foreign ambassadors that the country’s voting system was vulnerable to manipulation.

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