65 people charged with crimes related to Jan. 8 attacks on Brazil’s government fled to Argentina: Brazil Police

By June 7, 2024

São Paulo, Brazil – Brazil’s Federal Police on June 6 said they have identified at least 65 people charged with crimes related to the January 8, 2023 attacks on Brazil’s government headquarters who have fled to Argentina — possibly to seek asylum from the right-wing government of Javier Milei. 

The police said that they would request extradition for anyone charged with crimes, and added that none of the 65 Brazilians they have identified passed through migration control to enter Argentina. The names of the fugitives have not been released, but Federal Police Chief Andrei Passos said agencies are gathering the necessary information to process extradition requests. 

“The Federal Police mapped the whereabouts of the defendants and will pass the information to the Supreme Court, responsible for issuing the extradition order. Then, the Department of Asset Recovery and International Legal Cooperation (DRCI), linked to the Ministry of Justice, will issue the extradition request,” Passos told G1.

According to local press reports, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government does not know what to expect from President Milei, who is ideologically aligned with former President Jair Bolsonaro. They are concerned that Argentina may grant asylum to the fugitives. 

Bolsonaro himself was banned from holding public office until 2030 for spreading misinformation about Brazil’s electoral system, and in February, he hid out in the Hungarian embassy days after agents raided his properties, according to The New York Times

Read more: Jair Bolsonaro hid in Hungarian Embassy for two days amid coup investigation: The New York Times

Last week, President Bolsonaro’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, visited with some members of Argentina’s Congress in Buenos Aires. 

Eduardo Bolsonaro in a conference on freedom of speech in Buenos Aires. Image credit: Sebastián Rodríguez Mora

A colleague from Latin America Reports, Sebastian Rodriguez Mora, interviewed him outside of Congress on May 29th, where he said, “​​Brazil lives under a dictatorship,” and claimed that critics of Lula’s government were being persecuted. 

Asked whether he supported Brazilian citizens who are accused of crimes related to January 8 seeking asylum in Argentina, the former president’s son responded: 

“They must follow Argentinian law there. Unfortunately, these people are facing 14 to 17-year prison sentences for what happened that day. 

“I speak to you with complete confidence because I was a lawyer and a federal police officer before I was a congressman: If I go out onto the street in Brazil and murder someone, I wouldn’t accept 17 years in prison for nothing. Why then would people who have never set foot in a police station do it?

“In our country we need the law to be applied. And furthermore, the Brazilian Congress should dictate amnesty for these people. Because it has happened in the past that left-wing groups entered Congress, Indian arrows wounded federal police and nothing ever happened to those aggressors. 

“Many of those in jail were not even at the government headquarters on January 8, but miles away, in front of the military barracks, expressing their indignation at how those elections had taken place. 

“Only in a dictatorship can you not criticize the government. It cannot be a taboo topic, on which only politicians can express themselves. The essence of democracy is to be able to criticize.”

Latin America Reports reached out to Argentina’s migration authorities to confirm any asylum requests from Brazilian citizens related to January 8, but received no reply. As of publishing, there are no officially confirmed reports of Brazilians seeking asylum in Argentina related to January 8. 

Read more: Eduardo Bolsonaro in Buenos Aires: “Brazil lives under a dictatorship” (Interview) 

Recalling the January 8 attacks 

On January 8, 2023, around 4,000 Bolsonaro supporters breached security barriers in front of the government headquarters in Brasília, vandalizing and causing millions of dollars in damage to Brazil’s Supreme Court, Congress and the official office of the presidency. 

The supporters were reportedly upset with the results of the October 2022 elections, in which Bolsonaro lost in a run-off to Lula. The attacks on the government were an attempt to overturn the election results, which supporters had erroneously believed were stolen. 

To date, more than 1,300 people have been prosecuted for involvement in the atack, including those who invaded public buildings, incited action on social media, or financed Bolsonaro supporters’ travel to Brasília. Politicians and allies of the former president are also among the investigated.

Brazil’s Supreme Court is handling all cases related to January 8, and hundreds of people have already been convicted for crimes. Sentences for crimes such as attempting a coup can reach up to 17 years in prison. 

On Thursday, in addition to reporting that some defendants had fled to Argentina, Brazil’s Federal Police also announced that they re-arrested 49 people who had violated court orders, such as breaking electronic ankle bracelets or fleeing the country to escape justice.

“More than 200 defendants deliberately violated court orders or fled to other countries to avoid the application of criminal law,” the Federal Police said in a statement. They are reportedly still searching for 159 other defendants who have violated judicial orders. 

Sebastian Rodriguez Mora, a reporter with Argentina Reports, contributed to this report.