August 18, 2023 -RASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s federal police on Friday arrested seven senior military police officers accused of assisting right-wing rioters during the Jan. 8 attacks on government buildings in the capital, Brasilia.
Prosecutors say text messages obtained from the officers’ mobile phones show Brasilia’s military police were aware of the attackers’ intentions. Not only did the officers fail to prevent the attacks, say prosecutors, but they assisted the rioters in their efforts to oust President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and reappoint former President Jair Bolsonaro in a coup.
The officers have not been charged. Among those arrested Friday is Klepter Rosa Gonçalves, general commander of the military police of Brasilia. The police also detained three other people and dispatched 16 search and seizure warrants.
Prosecutors say military officials knew that the protesters intended to attack the capital and spread false information about the legitimacy of the country’s electronic voting system.
“There was (an) alignment of ideology — and purposes — between the officials and those who pleaded for an intervention of the armed forces,” reads the report by Brazil’s attorney general.
Lula unseated Bolsonaro by a razor-thin margin in October, and even before his Jan. 1 inauguration, supporters of Bolsonaro were already camped around the army’s headquarters in Brasilia, protesting Lula’s victory and calling for the intervention of the armed forces.
On Jan. 8, rioters bypassed security barricades and stormed Congress, the Supreme Court and the presidential palace, despite calls from the nation’s Intelligence Agency to reinforce security in the three buildings.
Dozens of attackers have been arrested in connection with the riots as well as some former government officials, including Anderson Torres, Bolsonaro’s former justice minister and public security secretary at the time.
Five of the officials arrested Friday had testified earlier this year during special committee sessions to investigate the Jan. 8 riots.
The arrests come as Bolsonaro faces several criminal investigations and allegations, including that he received cash from the sale of two luxury watches he received as gifts from Saudi Arabia while in office.
In June, a panel of judges concluded Bolsonaro abused his power by casting unfounded doubts on the electronic voting system and barred him from running for office again until 2030.