Brazilian Supreme Court orders release of 130 accused in the Brasilia riots

Federal Police arrested 2,151 people following the anti-democratic riots in Brasilia, over a thousand have been released but continue to face charges

March 15, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Supporters of former far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro invaded the headquarters of the three branches of government on January 8. (Photo: Archives)

On Monday, March 13, Brazilian Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered the provisional release of another 130 people detained for having participated in the violent riots in Brasilia against left-wing President Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva on January 8. Moraes determined that the accused have already been indicted and no longer represent a risk to the legal process or to society at this time, and can respond to the process at liberty.

Moraes has released more than a thousand detainees in recent weeks, all with a series of precautionary measures including electronic anklets, obligation to spend the night and weekends at home, prohibition from using social media and from driving. The accused are also prohibited from leaving their cities or the country, as well as from communicating with others involved.

On January 8, around 4,000 supporters of former far-right president Jair Bolsonaro invaded the Supreme Federal Court, the National Congress, and the Planalto Palace (the office of the president), breaking through blockades erected by the Military Police and the National Security Force at the Esplanade of Ministers in the capital Brasília. After invading the headquarters of the three branches of government, the violent groups vandalized the buildings, looted the armory at the Planalto Palace, and caused tremendous damage to public institutions. The acts of violence, which came just one week after Lula da Silva took office, have been widely condemned by political leaders and organizations in Brazil as well as from across the globe, with some seeming it an act of terrorism and a coup attempt.

On January 9, the Federal Police (PF) arrested 2,151 people who had participated in the anti-democratic acts. Of these, 745 were released immediately after being identified. Among those immediately released were those over 70 years of age, as well as those between 60 and 70 years of age with comorbidities, and about 50 women who were accompanied by children under 12 years of age. Of the remaining 1,406, 1,014 people have already been released in recent weeks. 310 men and 82 women remain in prison.

The Attorney General’s Office has so far accused 919 people of public incitement to crime and criminal association. Of these, 219 are also charged with more serious crimes such as qualified damage, violent abolition of the rule of law, and coup d’état. The people released on Monday have been accused of terrorist and anti-democratic acts and destruction of public buildings.

The Attorney General’s Office is also investigating Bolsonaro in the case for his possible role in instigating the attack.