RIO DE JANEIRO — A high-ranking Brazilian security official who flew to the U.S. before a riot that that some have called an attempted coup must return within three days or his country willl request his extradition, Brazil’s justice minister said Friday.
The Supreme Court has issued an arrest warrant for the federal district’s former security chief in connection with the Jan. 8 uprising in the capital, where supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed Congress, the top court and the presidential palace in an attempt to overturn election results. The administration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who defeated Bolsonaro in October, is investigating any complicity by people who paid to transport rioters to the capital and by local security personnel who may have stood aside and let the mayhem occur.
His minister of institutional relations, Alexandre Padilha, said Thursday on Twitter that “the coup attempt was meticulously premeditated and sketched out” and that its authors will be punished.
Much of the focus has centered on Anderson Torres, Bolsonaro’s former justice minister, who became the federal district’s security chief on Jan. 2, and was in the U.S. on the day of the riot. The Supreme Court’s Justice Alexandre de Moraes ordered Torres’ arrest this week and has opened an investigation into his actions, which he characterized as “neglect and collusion.” In his decision, which was made public Friday, de Moraes said that Torres fired subordinates and left the country before the riot, an indication that he was deliberately laying the groundwork for the unrest.
Torres has denied wrongdoing, and said Jan. 10 on Twitter that he would interrupt his vacation to return to Brazil and present his defense. Three days later, that has yet to occur.
“If by next week his appearance hasn’t been confirmed, of course we will use mechansims of international legal cooperation. We will trigger procedures next week to carry out his extradition,” Justice Minister Flávio Dino said.
The minister pointed to a document that Brazilian federal police found upon searching Torres’ home; a draft decree that would have seized control of Brazil’s electoral authority and potentially overturned the election. The origin and authenticity of the unsigned document are unclear, and it remains unknown if Bolsonaro or his subordinates took any steps to implement the measure that would have been unconstitutional, according to analysts and the Brazilian academy of electoral and political law.
But the document “will figure in the police investigation, because it even more fully reveals the existence of a chain of people responsible for the criminal events,” Dino said, adding that Torres will need to inform police who drafted it.
By failing to initiate a probe against the document’s author or report its existence, Torres at very could be charged with dereliction of duty, said Mario Sérgio Lima, a political analyst at Medley Advisors.
Torres said on Twitter that the document was probably found in a pile along with others intended for shredding, and that it was leaked out of context feed false narratives aimed at discrediting him.
Dino told reporters that no connection has yet been established between the capital riot and Bolsonaro, who has been in Florida since late December.
The federal district’s former governor and former military police chief are also targets of the Supreme Court investigation made public Friday. Both were removed from their positions after the riot.