São Paulo, Brazil – Two supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro who planted a bomb inside a fuel truck to be detonated at the airport in the capital Brasília last Christmas Eve were found guilty by the courts.
George Washington de Oliveira Sousa, 54, was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison for crimes of explosion, causing fire and possession of a gun without authorization. He was found to be the mastermind behind the plan. Police said he was the one who suggested the attack and produced the bomb.
A second defendant, Alan Diego dos Santos Rodrigues, 32, was sentenced to five years and four months in prison. He reportedly triggered the bomb inside the fuel truck, which did not detonate due to an error in assembling the device.
In his sentence, Judge Osvaldo Tovani said that Sousa and Rodrigues premeditated the crime and stated that they met in a camp set up by Bolsonaro supporters in front of the army barracks in Brasília. The camp was set up to protest the outcome of the 2022 election and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s win.
“The two defendants met in Brasília, in the camp set up in front of the army barracks. The explosive substances came from the north of the country at the request of Sousa, who carried out research on the internet on how to assemble the artifact and actually created the bomb,” said the judge.
Sousa and Rodrigues remain imprisoned in Brasília. The third accused of involvement in the crime, blogger Wellington Macedo de Souza, is still awaiting trial.
Remember the case
According to police, the three men planned to explode a bomb at Brasilia’s international airport, one of the busiest in the country, on December 24. But the driver of the fuel truck called the police after discovering the explosive artifact hidden in the vehicle before entering the airport.
A month-long investigation revealed that the device had in fact been detonated, but failed to explode. Police were able to calculate the estimated damage that would have occurred if the device detonated properly, saying it could have caused a large fire in the area.
“Whoever planted the bomb was prepared to kill people,” said Fábio Braga, director of the Institute of Criminalistics of Brasilia.
Hours after the bomber was discovered, police arrested Sousa, a gas station manager from the northern state of Pará. He confessed to the crime and said that he intended to “create a scene of chaos and force an intervention by the army” to reverse the elections.
Authorities have reported that Sousa had been in Brasília since November 2022, participating in anti-democratic protests, including camping out in front of a military barracks. Later, police identified the two other people involved with the bomb plot: Rodrigues and Souza.
In addition to their involvement with the bomb plot, Rodrigues and Souza also allegedly participated in acts of vandalism in Brasília on December 12, the day President Lula’s election was certified by the Electoral Court.
On that day, Bolsonaro supporters set fire to at least eight cars and buses and vandalized stores and other property, including the building that houses the offices of the Federal Police.