Brazil President allegedly tried to interfere with police to help family

BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO
BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO

RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he was unwilling to see his family get "screwed" because of his inability to change law enforcement officials, according to a video released on Friday that is set to deepen the political crisis surrounding him.

In the recording of an April 22 ministerial meeting, which forms part of a criminal investigation and was released by a justice of the Supreme Court on Friday, Mr Bolsonaro said it was his prerogative to change security officials, their bosses or even a minister.

"I've tried to change our security people in Rio de Janeiro officially, and I wasn't able to. That's over. I won't wait for my family or my friends to get screwed," Mr Bolsonaro said.

"If you can't change (the official), change his boss. You can't change the boss? Change the minister. End of story. We're not kidding around," he added.

Writing on Facebook after the release of the video, Mr Bolsonaro said there was "no indication of interference in the federal police".

In an interview with radio network Jovem Pan, he said he had been talking about his own personal security and not senior members of the federal police.

The public airing of the video comes at a bad time for Mr Bolsonaro. His political woes have led to rumblings about impeachment.

He has been criticised for his handling of Brazil's worsening coronavirus outbreak. The country now has the second-highest number of infections, behind the United States.

Supreme Court Justice Celso de Mello ordered the partial release of the video. It is one component of a criminal investigation over allegations by former justice minister Sergio Moro that Mr Bolsonaro leaned on him to change senior members of the federal police in Rio. Mr Moro quit last month.

Before becoming president, Mr Bolsonaro represented Rio state as a federal lawmaker for nearly 30 years. His son, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, also got his start there, and is under investigation over allegations of corruption.

Mr Kim Kataguiri, a member of Congress and a one-time Bolsonaro ally, said on Twitter that the video "proves" Mr Bolsonaro had interfered with the federal police to protect his children.

'PREROGATIVE'

If you can't change (the official), change his boss. You can't change the boss? Change the minister. End of story.

BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 24, 2020, with the headline 'Brazil President allegedly tried to interfere with police to help family'. Print Edition | Subscribe