Brazil's Superior Federal Court (STF) Wednesday ruled President Jair Bolsonaro needed to be investigated for alleged “slander” and “incitement to crime” when he voiced his concerns about the trustworthiness of the electronic voting system.
The STF made its decision at a request filed Monday by the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), which also opened an inquiry against Bolsonaro for raising doubts about holding elections in 2022 out of doubts regarding possible fraud through the electronic mechanism.
The president, worn out by his chaotic management of the pandemic, is also the subject of another investigation for prevarication on suspicion that he did not denounce an attempted corruption in negotiations to purchase the Indian anti-covid vaccine Covaxin.
Bolsonaro, who is seeking reelection in 2022, has questioned the reliability of the electronic ballot boxes, in force since 1996, for years.
STF Justice Alexandre de Moraes cited among the causes of the complaint on Wednesday the live broadcast on Facebook last Thursday, when Bolsonaro claimed that there was fraud in the last two presidential elections and that he should have won in the first round in 2018.
De Moraes thus decided to include Bolsonaro in the investigation opened in 2019 by the STF regarding fake news, offenses and threats to several judges. From false information, repeatedly repeated by social media and the like, a narrative is formulated that delegitimizes democratic institutions and encourages groups of sympathizers to attack people who represent the institutions, De Moraes wrote.
Three of the eleven STF judges, including De Moraeas, are also TSE judges.
On Tuesday, Bolsonaro affirmed that he will not accept intimidation, referring to the measures adopted by the electoral justice system. “I will not accept intimidation. I will continue to exercise my right to free expression, to criticize, listen and attend, above all, to the popular will,” the President told a group of his followers at the gates of the Palacio da Alvorada, his official residence in Brasilia.
Bolsonaro's offensive against the electoral system came at a time when his popularity is waning down and polls predicting his defeat against former left-wing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The president's proposal is not a return to paper voting but rather that a receipt be printed after each vote in the electronic ballot box, so that they can be counted manually. Thousands of people demonstrated last Sunday in several cities in Brazil to support Bolsonaro's initiative. Even after being elected, Bolsonaro has made repeated statements over the past three years casting doubt on the fairness of the electoral process.
The fake news inquiry was opened in March 2019 as per a decision by then Chief Justice Dias Toffoli. Justice de Moraes is the rapporteur of this investigation and he chose to include the President for his unsubstantiated attacks on the electoral system.
As a result of the conduct of the President of the Republic, the same modus operandi of dissemination used by the criminal organization investigated in both investigations was observed, with intense reactions through virtual networks, preaching hate speeches and contrary to institutions, to the State of Law and Democracy, including absurdly and unconstitutionally defending the absence of elections in 2022. Based on false statements, repeatedly repeated through social and similar media, a narrative is formulated that, at the same time, delegitimizes the democratic institutions and encourages groups of supporters to personally attack people who represent the institutions, seeking their removal and replacement by others aligned with the President's political group, De Moraes wrote.
De Moraes has given a five-day deadline for the Attorney General's Office (PGR) to express itself on the matter. He has also called for the summoning of Justice Minister Anderson Torres and Colonel Eduardo Gomes da Silva, advisor to the Civil House, to testify, since they were together with Bolsonaro during his Facebook broadcast.