Brazil army colonel arrested in military coup probe on return from US

By Thomson Reuters Feb 11, 2024 | 1:05 PM

By Lisandra Paraguassu

BRASILIA (Reuters) – A Brazilian army colonel wanted by police in an investigation into am attempted coup by associates of Brazil’s former far-right president was arrested on Sunday when he returned from the United States.

Colonel Bernardo Correa Neto was arrested at Brasilia’s airport when he arrived and put in detention at an army garrison after a custody hearing.

He was sent to the United States by the army on a mission at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington in December 2022, when former President Jair Bolsonaro left for Florida days before the swearing in of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro never conceded defeat by Lula in the October 2022 election and was declared ineligible for elected office until 2030 for abusing his power as president and attacking Brazil’s voting system by making baseless claims that it was open to fraud.

The Federal Police on Thursday raided Bolsonaro’s beach house and political party office, confiscated his passport and accused him of editing a draft decree to overturn the election result as part of an alleged plot for a military coup.

Bolsonaro, a far-right populist often likened to former U.S. President Donald Trump, has denied the conspiracy and called the investigation political persecution.

Thursday’s police operation included search warrants against four former ministers, three of them retired army generals, and the arrest of four former aides, including Colonel Correa Neto.

The president of Bolsonaro’s right-wing political party, Valdemar Costa Neto, was also arrested on Thursday when a search of his Brasilia home turned up an unregistered firearm.

He was set free provisionally on Saturday but has been ordered by Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes not to speak to others implicated in the coup investigation.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Mark Porter)