RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s Federal Police raided the official residence of Rio de Janeiro Gov. Wilson Witzel to carry out searches, part of an investigation into the embezzlement of public resources in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police didn’t say whether Witzel, a former federal judge, was personally targeted by any of the 12 search and seizure warrants in Rio and Sao Paulo states. An ongoing investigation pointed to irregularities in contracts awarded for the construction of emergency field hospitals in Rio, and involved health officials, police said.
“There is absolutely no participation on my part in any type of irregularity,” Witzel said. He also implied he was the target of political revenge.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has challenged many governors’ measures for containing the spread of the coronavirus, with Witzel a primary focus.
Bolsonaro has accused governors of inciting panic among the population with allegedly excessive stay-at-home recommendations and restrictions on commerce that he says will wreck the economy and produce worse hardship than the virus.