Bolsonaro Forged Covid Vaccination Proof, Brazil Police Say

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s federal police recommended criminal charges against former President Jair Bolsonaro after probing alleged changes to Covid-19 vaccination records to benefit the conservative leader and close family members.

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Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes on Tuesday lifted the confidentiality of the police report, which accuses the former president of criminal association and falsifying data, after local news outlets reported on his indictment.

The decision comes one year after police raided Bolsonaro’s home to investigate whether false data had been entered into the health ministry’s database to forge proof of vaccination for Bolsonaro and his family ahead of international trips.

Bolsonaro has not commented publicly on Tuesday’s accusations but has previously denied wrongdoing. Fabio Wajngarten, his spokesman and lawyer, said in a social media post that the indictment is “absurd” and complained that the defense did not have access to report.

During the pandemic, Bolsonaro downplayed the dangers of Covid-19 while casting doubt on the efficacy of vaccines. A congressional inquiry found that his administration was slow to obtain boosters while promoting unproven treatments for the virus, such as hydroxychloroquine. The former president was not charged at the time. Over 700,000 died in Brazil due to Covid-19, the world’s second-highest death toll behind the US.

Police said Bolsonaro ordered Lt. Col. Mauro Cid Barbosa to obtain false vaccination records for him and his daughter once he learned that the official, who served as his personal secretary at the time, had forged a similar document for himself. Authorities alleged that the health system was accessed and false vaccine certificates were printed from the presidential palace.

The police report was partly based on testimony provided by Cid Barbosa, who had been arrested last May and released after signing a plea bargain with investigators.

A total of 17 people, including Bolsonaro and Cid Barbosa, were indicted by the federal police today.

The decision sends the case to the office of Brazil’s attorney general, who will decide whether to file a complaint, request additional investigation or close the case. A complaint, if filed, would be judged by the Supreme Court, which could eventually convict Bolsonaro.

Read More: Bolsonaro Targeted as Police Ensnares Alleged Coup Plotters

Bolsonaro is also under investigation for an alleged coup attempt following his defeat in the 2022 election and for allegedly trying to bring into the country $3 million worth of jewelry gifted to him by the government of Saudi Arabia, without declaring the items to customs agents.

--With assistance from Andrew Rosati.

(Adds that Bolsonaro has yet to comment in fourth paragraph and additional information from police documents in sixth paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected the total number of people facing police indictments.)

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