Brazil's Justice Minister Flávio Dino said former President Jair Bolsonaro bears "political responsibility" for Sunday's attacks on government institutions in the country’s capital Brasília, but added there were no legal grounds to investigate him in connection with the riots at this time.
"Words have power and those words turned into hate, which turned into destruction," Dino said during a news conference on Monday. "It is a political responsibility because there are political leaders who are responsible for the hate speech and the destruction that we saw yesterday at the buildings of the three branches of powers, aiming at a coup d'état.”
The minister said there are "no elements to advance in a sphere of legal responsibility" yet against Bolsonaro.
"But in a political analysis, the entire Brazilian nation knows that in all these years in presidency, Bolsonaro and everyone who follows him has in recent years uttered frequent [verbal] attacks against the Supreme Court,” he said.
Bolsonaro left Brazil for the US on Dec. 30, 2022 — just two days before President Lula’s inauguration — and is currently in a Florida hospital suffering from abdominal “discomfort,” according to his wife Michelle Bolsonaro in an Instagram post.
Bolsonaro routinely attacked and discredited Brazil’s electoral system, the country’s Supreme Court, and left-wing voters and leadership during the course of his presidency. He also never explicitly conceded to Lula’s election win last October.
The former president did, however, take to Twitter on Sunday to criticize the attacks on government buildings and insist he had always acted within the bounds of the Constitution.
"Peaceful demonstrations, respecting the law, are part of democracy. However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule,” Bolsonaro said.
He continued, saying “Throughout my mandate, I have always been acting according to the Constitution, respecting and defending the laws, democracy, transparency and our sacred freedom.”
“Furthermore, I repudiate the accusations, without evidence, attributed to me by the current chief executive of Brazil," the former president said.