Brazil .- The Supreme Court of Brazil sentenced this Thursday the first three defendants to prison terms of between 17 and 14 years for the attack on the headquarters of the three powers on January 8, amid a heated debate that reflected the political polarization that the country experienced.
Aécio Lúcio Costa Pereira, the first of the 1,390 far-right activists accused of this attack on democracy condemned by the Supreme Court, was found guilty, like the other two, of illicit association, forcible abolition of the democratic rule of law, coup ‘état, serious damage and Destruction of public property.
Although guilt was unanimously acknowledged, there were strong disagreements among the eleven members of the Supreme Court as to the sentences to be imposed and the crimes charged.
However, the proposal of the reporting judge Alexandre de Moraes, who proposed a 17-year prison sentence for Costa Pereira for what he described as a “coup plot” of “irrational hatred” with the “clear aim” of incitement, was implemented. the armed forces to overthrow the legitimate government” by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The events came eight days after the inauguration of Lula, who defeated former President Jair Bolsonaro in October’s elections, who did not recognize that result, nor did the far right that supported him and encouraged the attack in January.
According to Supreme Court President Rosa Weber, January 8 was “a Sunday of shame” when “democracy was attacked by an irrational mob that angrily invaded the heart of the Republic with a total disregard for public affairs.” » .
After this first and symbolic case, Matheus Lima de Carvalho and Thiago de Assis Mathar were sentenced to 17 and 14 years in prison, respectively, with similar differences in their social networks.
Of the 1,390 defendants, the court still has to decide on 1,387, whose level of involvement will be determined individually, since Brazilian law does not provide for “collective responsibilities.”
But the tests could be more. The investigation continues and now points to those who financed the movement as well as the alleged intellectual authors – a final case in which there are suspicions against Bolsonaro himself.
Attempted coup or violent demonstration?
The accusation of “coup d’etat” brought forward by the public prosecutor’s office sparked a heated debate involving, on the one hand, the judges André Mendonça and Kassio Nunes Marques, who came to the Supreme Court through Bolsonaro, and, on the other, the rest of the nine members of the court.
Mendonça and Nunes Marques rejected this accusation, saying the coup was not carried out and that the January 8 vandals “did not have the strength” to overthrow the government.
Mendonça went further and defended Bolsonar’s thesis by reiterating that there were “inexplicable” government security failures that “facilitated” the vandals’ actions and that the events of January 8 should be judged in courts of first instance in the highest Court.
De Moraes refuted this position with unusual force in the Supreme Court debates, calling the approaches of Mendonça and Nunes Marques “absurd.”
The dean of the court, Gilmar Mendes, also responded, calling on the most conservative justices “not to ignore the context in which the events occurred.” This was preceded by protests at the doors of the barracks demanding that Lula’s inauguration on January 1st be prevented. eight days before the events.
“These demonstrations have never happened before in democracy,” said Mendes, who even cited as a “precedent” a cabinet meeting called by Bolsonaro in March 2021 in which one of his ministers called for the “imprisonment” of all members of the Supreme Court.
According to Mendes, “it was the same thing that happened in the United States on January 6, 2022” when far-right activists stormed the Capitol in protest of Joe Biden’s election victory over Donald Trump.
For political and legal analysts, this debate was a reflection of the strong political polarization into which the country has been plunged by the emergence of Bolsonaro’s extreme right, which is also no stranger to the Supreme Court.