Home News Brazilian police indict Bolsonaro over fake COVID certificate | Courts News

Brazilian police indict Bolsonaro over fake COVID certificate | Courts News

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Brazilian police indict Bolsonaro over fake COVID certificate | Courts News

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Facing multiple probes, former president’s first indictment is for allegedly falsifying his vaccine record.

Brazilian police have recommended that Jair Bolsonaro be prosecuted for forging his COVID vaccination certificate.

The federal police indictment was released by Brazil’s Supreme Court on Tuesday, following an investigation that began last year. The probe is one of several potential cases that the far-right politician faces following his term in office which ended in December 2022.

Bolsonaro, who has previously said he was not vaccinated, has been under investigation since last year over suspicions that he ordered aides to falsify his health record in order to allow him to travel internationally. During his presidency he came under fire for dismissing the severity of the pandemic.

The federal police said in a 231-page report that Bolsonaro and 16 other people had plotted to issue “the false certificates to obtain undue advantages” as the virus raged.

There are potential charges of criminal association and “insertion of false data into the public system”. Both are punishable by imprisonment.

It is now up to the attorney general’s office to decide whether to charge the former head of state.

Bolsonaro’s defence team has said that the ex-president did not know “that any of his advisers had made false vaccination certificates,” and claims that whoever did so acted on their own initiative.

The 68-year-old was questioned by police in connection with the allegations in May last year, and his house was raided. He claimed that the authorities were trying to “fabricate a case”.

Brazil’s comptroller general’s office in January confirmed that Bolsonaro’s COVID vaccination certificate was forged, but recommended closing the case due to a “lack of sufficient evidence” over who had entered the false data.

‘I received an order’

Bolsonaro faced severe criticism for his management of the pandemic, after opposing lockdown measures and telling Brazilians to “stop whining” as deaths reached record highs.

Public health records showed he received the vaccine in Sao Paulo in July 2022, but the comptroller’s office found this was fraudulently entered.

His defence team has complained of “political persecution” and claimed that when he served as president, Bolsonaro was “completely exempt from presenting any type of certificate on his trips”.

However, a close Bolsonaro aide, army colonel Mauro Cid, has admitted to introducing fake data into the public health system for Bolsonaro and his daughter and handing the then-president the certificates.

Cid was arrested in May 2023 over his involvement in the scheme and later released after a plea deal.

Mired

Bolsonaro is mired in several legal challenges.

One other continuing investigation seeks to determine whether he tried to sneak two sets of expensive diamond jewellery into Brazil and prevent them from being incorporated into the presidency’s public collection.

However, the most serious of all the inquiries is focused on Bolsonaro’s “alleged role in masterminding the January 8 uprising in Brasilia,” said Al Jazeera’s Monica Yanakiew, reporting from Rio de Janeiro.

Police are probing his involvement in an alleged coup plot to stay in power after he lost the 2022 election, which he suggested was rigged.

Crowds of Bolsonaro supporters, many of whom remain loyal to the populist, besieged government buildings as his successor, left-leaning Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was inaugurated.

“[Bolsonaro’s] former military aides [have] testified that he had planned to ask for military intervention in case he lost the elections,” Yanakiew notes.

However, the alleged forgery is the subject of Bolsonaro’s first indictment since leaving office.

Should the prosecutor-general’s office decide to file charges, Bolsonaro could be sentenced to up to 12 years behind bars. The indictment for criminal association carries a potential maximum jail time of four years, analysts suggest.

Yanakiew suggested that police could wrap up all their investigations by July.

“That is when people expect Bolsonaro is likely to be imprisoned,” she said.

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