Brazil January 8 investigation accuses Bolsonaro of participating in alleged coup

The Federal Police of Brazil initiated Operation Tempus Veritatis on Thursday under authorization from the Supreme Federal Court. The operation targets an alleged plot to undermine Brazil’s democratic process, involving former President Jair Bolsonaro and his close advisors. As a result of the Thursday operation, Bolsonaro has been ordered to turn over his passport, remain in the country and have no contact with any of the other individuals under investigation.

Central to the investigation is a draft decree, reportedly delivered to Bolsonaro by his former adviser for international affairs Filipe Martins, and lawyer Amauri Feres Saad. According to Supreme Federal Court Justice Moraes, the document outlined a plan for a coup d’état, including the arrest of Supreme Court justices Alexandre de Moraes and Gilmar Mendes well as the arrest of Senate head Rodrigo Pacheco. The planning document also called for the holding of new elections in an attempt to overturn the 2022 presidential election results.

As part of the operation, 33 search and seizure warrants, four preventive arrest warrants, and 48 precautionary measures are being carried out. Among those investigated are high-profile individuals such as former head of the Institutional Security Cabinet General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, former Chief of Staff General Walter Souza Braga Netto, and former Defense Minister General Paulo Sérgio Nogueira de Oliveira. Investigative efforts have also targeted former Justice and Public Security Minister Anderson Torres and Filipe Martins, who was arrested during a raid.

The operations further implicated the Liberal Party—the same Bolsanaro belonged to—with a search and seizure order executed at its headquarters in Brasília. President of the Liberal Party Valdemar Costa Neto is among those under investigation.

Prosecutor-General Paulo Gonet backed the operation, asserting that the actions of those involved aimed to illegitimately maintain Bolsonaro in power by reversing the election outcome.

At the center of the operation is the storming of the country’s National Congress, Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), and presidential palace buildings one week after the inauguration of left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The events have come to be known as the January 8 riots as the events all occurred on January 8, 2023.