The court’s decision follows a request by Brazil’s public prosecutor office, several members of which released a statement Friday describing the events of that day – when Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed and destroyed government buildings to protest the election of his rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – as “antidemocratic acts.”
“By posting a video on January 10 (two days after the attack) questioning the legality of the 2022 presidential elections, Bolsonaro delivered a public incitement to commit crimes,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, Bolsonaro shared a Facebook video of a woman questioning the victory of Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in the October presidential election. The video was then deleted a few hours later.
Prosecutors say although the video was posted after the attacks, there is a “connection” between the content in Bolsonaro’s video and the violence in Brasilia.
The Supreme Court said Friday it had accepted the public prosecutor’s request to investigate Bolsonaro’s alleged involvement.
It also approved the prosecutor’s request to ask Meta to preserve the video he posted on Facebook, and to investigate its impact.
Until now, the former far-right Brazilian president has not been directly linked to, or involved in, the investigation into the January 8 events.
Separately from the prosecutor’s request and without referring to any accusation in particular, Bolsonaro’s lawyer, Frederick Wasser, said on Friday the former president always “rejected all illegal and criminal acts…and has always been a defender of the Constitution and democracy.”
“President Bolsonaro vehemently rejects the acts of vandalism and depredation of public patrimony committed by the infiltrators in the protest. He never had any connection or participation in these spontaneous social movements done by the people,” the former president’s son, Flavio Bolsonaro, said in a statement on Friday.
Justice Ministry spokeswoman Lorena Ribeiro said Federal Police found the document while carrying out a search and arrest warrant at the house of Anderson Torres on Tuesday.
She said it proposed implementing a “state of defense” in the Superior Electoral Court while Bolsonaro was still leader in order to overturn the victory of his rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in the October election. The draft had not been signed by Bolsonaro, Ribeiro said.
A state of defense is a legal measure that allows the sitting President to intervene in other areas of government to secure public order. While Bolsonaro lost the October election, he remained president until the end of December.
CNN has not viewed the document and Torres – who served as justice minister until the Bolsonaro administration left office – has issued a statement on social media denying he was the author of the decree.
“As Minister of Justice, we are faced with hearings, suggestions, and proposals of the most diverse types,” he wrote. “In my house there was a pile of documents to be discarded, where most likely the material described in the article was found,” he added. “Everything would be taken to be shredded at the Ministry of Justice in due course.”
Torres suggested that the decree draft had been deliberately leaked to media to discredit him.
“The cited document was picked up when I wasn’t there and leaked out of context, helping to fuel fallacious narratives against me. We were the first ministry to deliver management reports for the transition (of power),” he said. “I respect Brazilian democracy. I have a clear conscience regarding my role as minister.”
The violent attack on Brazil’s government was months in the making. Here’s what you need to know
After leaving government, Torres took office as the head of Security for the Federal District of Brasilia, but was fired on Sunday after protesters breached police barriers and broke into government buildings. He had traveled to Orlando, Florida, allegedly on holiday, just days before the riots and was there as events unfolded.
Torres vowed to cut his holiday short and face justice after search and arrest warrants were issued by the Brazilian Supreme Court, denying any wrongdoing.
Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court issued Torres a preventive detention order under an arrest warrant issued on Wednesday.
The draft documents were first reported by Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo on Thursday.
Brazil’s new Justice Minister Flavio Dino told CNN Brasil on Thursday the existence of the draft decree was “appalling” and said what it called for was “unconstitutional.”
“I didn’t have access to the document and according to the press reports, it was a decree for a coup d’état that emphasizes what we saw on January 8 (the day of the riots), which wasn’t an isolated case. It was an element of a chain, a link in a coup chain in Brazil that had preparatory and astonishing acts, such as a decree of military intervention in the Electoral Court, which is unconstitutional,” Dino said.
He also criticized Torres for keeping the document at his home. “A public agent, upon becoming aware of a crime, should not keep such a document at home. It is something that really shows the will of closing the Supreme Court, the Congress, of preventing the freedom of the Brazilian people to choose their rulers. And all attempts failed, including the one on January 8.”
“What can I say to the Brazilian nation is if someone gives me a document of that nature, they would be arrested, because it is criminal. I wouldn’t keep it, I wouldn’t grind it,” Dino said.