Brazilian court sets trial that may leave Bolsonaro ineligible

Brazil’s highest electoral court will begin a trial on June 22 for abuse of political power and misinformation against the far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, that if convicted he could be ineligible for public office, the institution announced this Monday.

Bolsonaro is being investigated for having attacked the electoral justice and criticized, without evidence, the reliability of electronic voting in Brazil during a meeting with ambassadors last July, less than three months before the presidential elections in October, in which he was defeated by the current president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Before dozens of ambassadors and diplomats from France and Spain, as well as from the European Union (EU), the far-right said he wanted to “correct failures” in the system and have “transparency” in the vote, in a speech that lasted almost an hour at the Palace de la Alvorada, the official residence.

“I am being accused of a coup all the time (…) I am questioning before because we have time to solve the problem, with the participation of the Armed Forces,” added the then president (2019-2022), who accompanied his speech with a PowerPoint presentation on the electoral system.

He Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) will meet in plenary session on June 22 to review the allegation, but a decision could be delayed. If necessary, the evaluations can continue on June 27 and 29, the entity announced in a note.

If convicted, Bolsonaro could be barred from being eligible for public office for eight years.

The Prosecutor’s Office supports a declaration of “ineligibility” of Bolsonaro “due to abuse of political power and improper use of the media,” said the TSE.

The former president faces more than a dozen administrative processes in the electoral court for alleged abuse of political and economic power during the 2022 electoral contest.

He is also the subject of four investigations in the Federal Supreme Court, with sentences that include imprisonment, including his alleged role as mastermind and instigator of the riot of thousands of his supporters at the headquarters of public powers in Brasilia on January 8.

The ultra-rightist made the electronic ballot box a target of attacks due to its supposed vulnerability, which he said could be used against him.

Brazil adopted the electronic ballot box system in the 1996 municipal elections, and so far no security problems have been verified.

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