On Wednesday morning, the Brazilian Federal Police searched the home of former President Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasilia, and arrested several members of his security team. The dispute revolves around investigations into a scheme to provide false data on the COVID-19 vaccination.
In all, police officers issued 16 search and seizure warrants and arrested six people. Among those arrested was Lieutenant Colonel Mauro Cid Barbosa, who was Bolsonaro’s aide during his presidency, a position very close to the head of state.
Police officer Max Guilherme and military officer Sergio Cordero, both of whom belonged to Bolsonaro’s personal security service during the presidency, were also arrested.
Bolsonaro had been expected to be called to testify on Wednesday, but the former president’s defense requested that the cross-examination be postponed to get to the process. The UOL news site says police seized his cell phone.
The investigation attempts to investigate the operation of an alleged scheme to falsify vaccination records, by providing incorrect data in the Ministry of Health systems. The aim, according to the PF, was to allow vaccination certificates to be issued so that people who have not been vaccinated against covid-19 can travel freely.
Among the beneficiaries of this illegal scheme, according to TV Globo, are Bolsonaro himself and his youngest daughter, Laura, 12, as well as Barbosa, his wife and daughter, and even a federal deputy. Police believe the false data will be submitted between November 2021 and December last year and will be used so that Bolsonaro and his entourage can travel to Florida, in the final days of his term, where he will remain until the end of March.
The goal of the group that falsified the records, according to the police, would be to “maintain the coherence of the identity element in relation to its ideological guidelines” and “preserve the rhetoric aimed at attacks on the COVID-19 vaccination”.
The crimes investigated by the Palestinian police within the scope of these investigations include violating health procedures, forming criminal associations, entering false data, and corruption of minors.
Already after the police operation, Bolsonaro denied any wrongdoing and maintained that he had never been vaccinated against COVID-19. “I have never been asked for a vaccine card anywhere, and there is no manipulation on my part,” the former president said in remarks as he left his home in Brasilia. Bolsonaro also said that the decision not to take the vaccine was “personal”, stressing that the youngest daughter also did not receive the vaccine.
While in office, Bolsonaro has publicly expressed many doubts, scientifically unfounded, regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines against COVID-19, and his government has been accused of delaying the procurement of immunization devices. Despite numerous requests, the former president has not publicly disclosed his vaccine flyer and has not been seen getting vaccinated against covid-19, unlike most Brazilian politicians.
In February, the Controller General of the Federation, an entity responsible for the oversight and supervision of public bodies, Certain Having a vaccination record proving that the vaccine was administered to Bolsonaro. However, suspicions persisted that this bulletin could have entered the Ministry of Health’s system in an irregular manner and that the former president had never been vaccinated.
According to the document, Bolsonaro would have been vaccinated in May 2021, a few weeks before traveling to the United States, which at that time required presentation of a vaccination certificate, to participate in the summit.
Since the end of his presidency, on December 31 of last year, Bolsonaro no longer enjoys judicial immunity, and he can be tried by any court of first instance, and if the authorities consider that there is a risk of escape, he can even be arrested preventively.
The investigation into alleged falsification of vaccine records known Wednesday added to several other court cases involving the former president, such as Saudi jewelry, accusations of genocide against indigenous people and possible participation as an instigator of the business. Riots in Brasilia on 8 January. Bolsonaro still risks losing his political rights because of the many cases before the electoral justice.
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