Brazil police accuse Bolsonaro of faking his vaccination records

Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has been formally accused of falsifying his Covid-19 vaccination status, marking the first indictment for the embattled far-right leader. (Photo/AFP)

Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has been formally accused of falsifying his Covid-19 vaccination status, marking the first indictment for the embattled far-right leader, with more allegations potentially in store.

The federal police indictment released by the Supreme Court on Tuesday alleged that Bolsonaro and 16 others inserted false information into a public health database to make it appear as though the then-president, his 12-year-old daughter and several others in his circle had received the Covid-19 vaccine.

Police detective Fabio Alvarez Shor, who signed the indictment, said in his report that Bolsonaro and his aides changed their vaccination records in order to "issue their respective [vaccination] certificates and use them to cheat current health restrictions."

"The investigation found several false insertions between November 2021 and December 2022, and also many actions of using fraudulent documents," Shor added.

The detective said in the indictment that Bolsonaro's aide-de-camp, Mauro Cid, told investigators the former president asked him to insert the false data into the system for both himself and his daughter.

Cid also said he personally delivered the vaccination certificates to Bolsonaro.

During the pandemic, Bolsonaro was one of the few world leaders who railed against the vaccine. He openly flouted health restrictions and encouraged other Brazilians to follow his example.

His administration ignored several offers from pharmaceutical company Pfizer to sell Brazil tens of millions of shots in 2020, and he openly criticised a move by Sao Paulo state's governor to buy vaccines from Chinese company Sinovac when no other doses were available.

Brazil’s prosecutor-general’s office will have the final say on whether to use the indictment to file charges against Bolsonaro at the Supreme Court. The case stems from one of several investigations targeting Bolsonaro, who governed from 2019 to 2022.

'Absurd' indictment

Bolsonaro's lawyer, Fabio Wajngarten, called his client's indictment "absurd" and said he did not have access to it.

"When he was president, he was completely exempted from showing any kind of certificate on his trips. This is political persecution and an attempt to void the enormous political capital that has only grown," Wajngarten said.

Gleisi Hoffmann, chairwoman of the Workers' Party, whose candidate defeated Bolsonaro, celebrated his indictment on social media.

She said she hopes the former president stands trial in many other cases, including for his alleged attempt to sneak $3 million in diamond jewellery into the country and the sale of two luxury watches he received as gifts from Saudi Arabia while in office.

"He has lied until this day about his nefarious administration, but now he will have to face the truth in the courts. The federal police's indictment sent to prosecutors is just the first of several," Hoffmann said.

Brazil's Supreme Court has already seized Bolsonaro's passport.

Police accuse Bolsonaro and his aides of tampering with the health ministry's database shortly before he travelled to the US in December 2022, two months after he lost his reelection bid to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro needed a certificate of vaccination to enter the US, where he remained for the final days of his term and the first months of Lula's term.

The former president has repeatedly said he has never taken a Covid-19 vaccine. If convicted for falsifying health data, the 68-year-old politician could spend up to 12 years behind bars or as little as two years, according to legal analyst Zilan Costa.

"What Bolsonaro will argue in this case is whether he did insert the data or enable others to do it, or not. And that is plain and simple: Either you have the evidence or you don't. It is a very serious crime with a very harsh sentence for those convicted," Costa told The Associated Press.

Bolsonaro is currently mired in legal challenges, including an investigation into an alleged coup plot to stay in power after he lost the 2022 election.

Bolsonaro was also banned from holding public office until 2030 due to his attacks on the election system.


Source: TRT