Brazil police investigate Bolsonaro’s stay in February at Hungary embassy -source

By Thomson Reuters Mar 26, 2024 | 7:46 PM

By Rodrigo Viga Gaier

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazilian police are investigating why former president Jair Bolsonaro spent two nights at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia last month right after his passport was seized in an investigation into an alleged military coup plot, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the police report on the probe will be sent to Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who ordered the investigation into an alleged plan for a military coup after Bolsonaro was defeated in October 2022 by leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro has denied any involvement in a conspiracy, but the former commanders of the army and air force earlier this month told police in depositions that Bolsonaro had asked them to join plans for a coup. They said they refused to join.

Bolsonaro’s stay at the embassy of Hungary between Feb. 12 and 14 was first reported by the New York Times on Monday, based on security camera footage that showed him entering the diplomatic compound.

On Feb. 8, police had seized Bolsonaro’s passport and accused him of editing a draft decree to overturn the results of the 2022 election, pressing military chiefs to join a coup, and planning to jail Moraes.

Moraes has set a deadline of Wednesday for Bolsonaro to explain to the top court the purpose of his stay, court officials said.

Bolsonaro’s lawyer, Fabio Wajngarten, said on social media on Monday evening that the ex-president was at the embassy “to maintain contact with officials of the friendly country” and “get updates on the political landscape of both nations”.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a nationalist who has been in power for 14 years, is a political ally of the far-right Bolsonaro. The Hungarian embassy in Brasilia did not reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Since leaving power, Bolsonaro has maintained close relations with Orban, whom he called his “brother” during a 2022 visit to Budapest. The two met this year during the inauguration of Argentina’s right-wing President Javier Milei.

Last year a Brazilian court ruled that Bolsonaro is ineligible for political office until 2030 for spreading electoral misinformation during the 2022 election.

He is also facing potential criminal charges for fraud related to his COVID-19 vaccination card.

(Reporting Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Steven Grattan; Editing by Anthony Boadle and Michael Perry)