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Brazil’s Supreme Court sentences first accused in Brasilia riots to 17 years in prison | Court News

Judges vote to convict Aecio Lucio Costa Pereira on charges including armed association and attempted coup.

Brazil’s Supreme Court announced a 17-year prison sentence for the first defendant tried and convicted for joining a crowd of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed state institutions in Brasilia earlier this year.

The majority of the court’s justices voted Thursday in favor of the conviction of Aecio Lucio Costa Pereira on charges including armed criminal conspiracy, damage to historic buildings and attempted cut.

It was the first verdict issued following the Jan. 8 riots, which shook a deeply divided country following Bolsonaro’s electoral defeat last year to his left-wing rival, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brazil is pressing for accountability for those involved in the attack and sending a strong message that efforts to undermine democracy will not be tolerated.

“We have turned the page on the era of coups,” Brazilian prosecutor Carlos Frederico Santos told the court as the trials began Wednesday.

“Those who adhere to the fallacious notion that power can be won through violence and in violation of constitutional norms must answer for the resulting crimes. »

The riot erupted a week after Lula was sworn in after defeating Bolsonaro, a former army captain, in a bitterly contested runoff in October last year.

Bolsonaro supporters stormed the country’s Supreme Court, as well as the presidential palace and congressional building, after many of them spent weeks calling on the military to challenge Lula’s victory.

The attack has been compared to a similar incident in the United States on January 6, 2021, when a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump broke into the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn his electoral defeat against Joe Biden.

Pereira, 51, arrested in the Senate building during the riots in Brasilia, claimed Wednesday that he had only participated in a peaceful demonstration.

Pereira’s lawyers told the court that their client was unarmed and had not committed any acts of violence. Defense lawyer Sebastiao Coelho da Silva called the trial “politically motivated.”

Three of the Supreme Court’s judges decided Thursday to convict Pereira only on some of the five charges against him, including less serious charges such as destruction of property.

Eight of them decided to convict him on all five counts, including violent uprising against the rule of law and attempted coup.

“The objective (of the rioters) was to violently seize Brasilia and spread a criminal attack against the rule of law across the country,” Judge Cristiano Zanin said in handing down his decision.

Bolsonaro himself has faced scrutiny for his actions surrounding the riot, speaking to police in April and denying any involvement in what he called “unfortunate” events.

In the months leading up to last year’s presidential election, Bolsonaro sparked concern by spreading false claims that the country’s electoral system was vulnerable to widespread fraud and suggesting he would not accept the defeat.

In June, the country’s top election court banned him from holding public office until 2030 because of his conduct before the vote.


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