April 23rd, 2024

Brazil’s military leaders told police Bolsonaro presented a plan to reverse the 2022 election result

By Mauricio Savarese, The Associated Press on March 15, 2024.

Former President Jair Bolsonaro addresses supporters during a rally in Sao Paulo., Brazil, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. Bolsonaro and some of his former top aides are under investigation into allegations they attempted plotted a coup to remove his successor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

SAO PAULO (AP) – Top Brazilian military leaders declared to police that former President Jair Bolsonaro presented them a plan to reverse the results of the 2022 election he lost, but they refused and warned him they would arrest him if he tried it, according to judicial documents released Friday.

The testimonies of Bolsonaro’s former Army and Air Force commanders to police, and released by the Supreme Court, is the first direct mention of the right-wing leader as the person planning to change the results of the December 2022 election won by his rival, current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The statements by Bolsonaro’s commanders add to his legal woes as prosecutors seek to find links between the far-right leader and the Jan. 8, 2023 riots that trashed government buildings in capital Brasilia one week after Lula’s inauguration.

A federal police report said former army commander Marco Antônio Freire Gomes testified that he and other top military leaders attended several last-minute and unscheduled meetings at the presidential palace after the second round of the elections “in which then President Jair Bolsonaro offered possibilities of using legal tools… regarding the electoral process.”

Gen. Freire Gomes told federal police that in one of the gatherings Bolsonaro told the three commanders of his military and his then-Defense Secretary Paulo Sergio Nogueira he wanted to create a commission to “investigate the confirmation and the legality of the electoral process.” He added other tools could be used, such as issuing a decree of a state of siege.

Freire Gomes said he rejected the idea from the start and told Bolsonaro that such a move “could end in the in the legal responsibility of the then president,” according to the federal police document.

The Brazilian general also declared to police he “always made it clear to the then-president that, under the conditions at the time, there was no possibility to reverse the result of the elections from a military standpoint.”

Former Air Force commander Brig. Carlos de Almeida Baptista Júnior also told federal police he rejected Bolsonaro’s electoral moves. He added that he believes that Gen. Freire Gomes’ rebuke was key to stopping Bolsonaro from seeking the reverse the elections resutl.

Bolsonaro started raising unfounded questions about Brazil’s electronic voting process years before the vote.

“Gen. Freire Gomes said that if such move was attempted he would have to arrest the president,” the police document reads.

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