Charges Against Pro-Bolsonaro Rioters Include Staging a Coup

39 charged in storming of government buildings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 17, 2023 3:01 PM CST
Brazil Charges Dozens in Pro-Bolsonaro Riots
Supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who were arrested after the storming of public buildings are taken by bus to a federal prison as they leave the Federal Police Academy in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.   (AP Photo/Gustavo Moreno)

The office of Brazil’s prosecutor-general has presented its first charges against some of the thousands of people who authorities say stormed government buildings in an effort to overturn former President Jair Bolsonaro's loss in the October election. The prosecutors in the recently formed group to combat anti-democratic acts have also requested that the 39 defendants who ransacked Congress be imprisoned as a preventive measure, and that 40 million reais ($7.7 million) of their assets be frozen to help cover damages, the AP reports. The defendants have been charged with armed criminal association, violent attempt to subvert the democratic state of law, staging a coup, and damage to public property, the prosecutor general's office said in a statement Monday night.

More than a thousand people were arrested on the day of the Jan. 8 riot, which bore strong similarities to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot in the US. Rioters who stormed through the Brazilian Congress, the presidential palace, and the Supreme Court in the capital, Brasilia, sought to have the armed forces intervene and overturn Bolsonaro's loss to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The rioters "attempted, with the use of violence and serious threat, to abolish the democratic rule of law, preventing or restricting the exercise of constitutional powers," according to an excerpt of charges included in a statement. "The ultimate objective of the attack ... was the installation of an alternative government regime."

The attackers were not charged with terrorism because under Brazilian law such a charge must involve xenophobia or prejudice based on race, ethnicity, or religion. The prosecutor-general’s office sent its charges to the Supreme Court after the Senate’s president, Rodrigo Pacheco, last week provided a list of people accused of rampaging through Congress. Additional rioters are expected to be charged.

(More Brazil stories.)

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