Brazil charges 39 with staging coup after storming of government buildings | Brazil

The office of Brazil’s prosecutor-general has presented its first charges against some of the thousands of people who authorities say stormed government buildings in an effort to overturn former president Jair Bolsonaro’s loss in the October election.

The prosecutors in the recently formed group to combat antidemocratic acts have also requested that the 39 defendants who allegedly ransacked the Brazilian congress building be imprisoned as a preventive measure, and that 40m reais ($7.7m) of their assets be frozen to help cover damages.

The defendants have been charged with armed criminal association, violent attempt to subvert the democratic state of law, staging a coup and damage to public property, the prosecutor-general’s office said in a statement released late on Monday. Their identities have not yet been released.

More than a thousand people were arrested on the day of the 8 January riot, which bore strong similarities to the 6 January 2021 riots at the US Capitol by mobs who wanted to overturn former president Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election.

Rioters who stormed through the Brazilian congress building, the presidential palace and the supreme court in the capital, Brasília, sought to have the armed forces intervene and overturn Bolsonaro’s loss to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The rioters “attempted, with the use of violence and serious threat, to abolish the democratic rule of law, preventing or restricting the exercise of constitutional powers”, according to an excerpt of charges included in a statement. “The ultimate objective of the attack … was the installation of an alternative government regime.”

The attackers were not charged with terrorism because under Brazilian law such a charge must involve xenophobia or prejudice based on race, ethnicity or religion.

The prosecutor-general’s office sent its charges to the supreme court after the senate’s president, Rodrigo Pacheco, last week provided a list of people accused of rampaging through congress. Additional rioters are expected to be charged.

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