Brazilian Police Accuse Bolsonaro of COVID-19 Vaccine Record Fraud

Bill Pan
By Bill Pan
March 19, 2024Americas
Brazilian Police Accuse Bolsonaro of COVID-19 Vaccine Record Fraud
Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (R) speaks to supporters next to his wife Michelle Bolsonaro during a rally in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 25, 2024. (Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images)

Brazilian police have indicted former President Jair Bolsonaro on allegations he faked his COVID-19 vaccination records to travel abroad, paving the way for possible criminal fraud charges against the conservative leader.

Brazil’s federal police on Tuesday formally accused Mr. Bolsonaro, an outspoken skeptic of the global COVID vaccine rollout and harsh public health restrictions, of plotting to forge “false certificates to obtain undue advantages” during the pandemic.

Ultimately, it will be up to Brazil’s attorney general’s office to decide whether to pursue criminal charges.

Last May, the federal police raided Mr. Bolsonaro’s home in Brasília, arrested his aides, and seized his cell phone as part of an investigation into an alleged scheme to insert “false data” in a national COVID-19 database between November 2021 and December 2022.

Mr. Bolsonaro, who questioned the safety of the vaccine and the severity of COVID itself, had vowed never to get the jab. However, he appeared to have been registered as vaccinated in health records made public in February 2022.

His vaccination card, alleged Brazilian police, was made by a top deputy after Mr. Bolsonaro lost the presidential election in 2022. Police claimed they had evidence that the card was printed from an IP address inside Brazil’s presidential palace, just days before Mr. Bolsonaro traveled to Florida, where foreign nationals still needed to show proof of having received a vaccine to be admitted.

Mr. Bolsonaro stayed in Florida for three months, during which his supporters across the nation stated protests against President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who declared victorious by an extremely thin margin. The pro-Bolsonaro, anti-Lula protests reached their heights with the storming of federal government buildings on Jan. 8, 2023—almost reminiscent of the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol.

The 68-year-old former leader has denied the accusations and insisted that he had never taken a COVID-19 vaccine.

“For my part, there was nothing falsified. I didn’t take the vaccine. Period,” Mr. Bolsonaro said after the police raid. He also accused the police of trying to “fabricate a case” against him.

The raid on Mr. Bolsonaro’s home sparked comments drawing a parallel between the FBI executing a search warrant at former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Florida resort on allegations that he unlawfully stored classified documents there after leaving the White House.

Like his South American counterpart, President Trump has denied any wrongdoing and characterized the actions against him as a political “witch hunt.”

While President Trump has so far defeated attempts to disqualify him from seeking a second term because of the role he played in the Jan. 6 event, Mr. Bolsonaro is still under an eight-year ban from running for office after raising questions about election integrity.

Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro speaks to the press as he leaves the Federal Senate in Brasilia on June 21, 2023. (Evaristo Sa/AFP via Getty Images)

Last June, Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court voted 5-2 to bar Mr. Bolsonaro from holding public office for eight years. He was accused of undermining public trust in the country’s voting system by claiming that the electronic ballots used in the last election were prone to being hacked.

The electoral court’s decision to penalize Mr. Bolsonaro was also partially based on his decision to summon foreign ambassadors several weeks before the first round of the 2022 election. One of the judges who voted in favor of the penalty argued that with the move to summon the ambassadors, the then-incumbent president tried to get an unfair advantage in the election and made Brazil appear like “a little banana republic.”

The ban is backdated to Oct. 2, 2022, when the presidential election took place. If the verdict is allowed to stand, Mr. Bolsonaro will not be eligible to take part in the next presidential election in 2026 but will be able to run again in 2030. He would be 75 by that time.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.