Brazilian police on Wednesday raided former President Jair Bolsonaro’s home, arrested his trusted aides, and seized his cell phone as part of a probe into his COVID-19 vaccination records.
The investigation may answer questions about how Bolsonaro, who vowed never to get a COVID-19 vaccine, was registered as vaccinated in health records made public in February.
Supreme Court documents showed federal police had found evidence of tampering with Bolsonaro’s vaccine records in his last weeks as president in late December, before he flew to the United States, where most foreign visitors must be vaccinated.
Bolsonaro confirmed the raid on his home in Brasilia to journalists and reiterated that he had never taken a COVID vaccine. He denied any role in allegedly forging documents.
“For my part, there was nothing falsified. I didn’t take the vaccine. Period,” he said, adding that his phone was seized.
The vaccine probe is one of many putting the former conservative leader under pressure, including investigations into alleged voter suppression, his attacks on the legitimacy of Brazilian elections, and embezzlement of foreign gifts.
Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing in those cases.
Federal police in a statement said they were serving 16 search warrants and six preventive arrest warrants in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro as part of the operation, without naming those targeted.
The Supreme Court, which is overseeing the case, released court documents on Wednesday that included an arrest warrant for Mauro Cid, one of Bolsonaro’s personal assistants when he was president, who stayed on as an aide after he stepped down.
Police cited evidence that Cid designed a scheme in which Bolsonaro was registered on Dec. 21 as vaccinated against COVID, court documents showed. The entry, made in a public health office in suburban Rio de Janeiro, was removed a week later, according to the documents.
Bolsonaro’s personal security officers Max Guilherme and Sergio Cordeiro, who have stayed on as part of his detail, were also arrested in Wednesday’s operation over accusations they falsified their vaccine records before flying with Bolsonaro to the United States.
Cid and the other aides could not immediately be reached for comment.
Police said they were investigating a scheme to insert “false data” in a national COVID-19 database between November 2021 and December 2022.
“As a result, they were able to issue vaccine certificates and use them to circumvent restrictions imposed by public authorities in Brazil and the United States,” police said.
The investigation points to “ideological” reasons for circumventing vaccination rules, police said, “in order to keep up a discourse of attacking vaccination against COVID-19.”
“We trust that all legal doubts will be cleared up and it will be proven that Bolsonaro did not commit illegal acts,” Valdemar Costa Neto, the head of Bolsonaro’s political party, wrote on social media.
Brazil former president bolsonaro & his peoples are treated like they treatment of President Trump and his supporters
Really at this point,who cares? Its all a sham and they are all criminally involved in a huge con of the people! Telling us one thing ,while doing another! Letting poor people die while they get rich! My own mother was basically murdered by Commrad Murphy of New Jersey! Governor Murphy did the same exact things that Cuomo did in NY and even though ,Cuomo was “only” removed from office at the very least that was his punishment for killing thousands of New Yorkers with his restrictions, refusing to follow President Trumps suggestions and using the Federal hostpitals that were sent in and more! Well Gov. Murphy did the same but ,some how is still in power and ruling over the people of New Jersery!!! How in GODS name is he still in charge of N.J. after killing thousands him self? My mother lived in a nursing home and all those that had pre-existing conditions, as my mother did. After Murphy put the Covid victims into these Nusring homes, many seniors started to die and Murphy turned a blind eye as Cuomo did in NY!!! so after all the thousands of deaths by both leaders, and there were others, that they are not in prisons? Is now ordering people to their deaths ,just an oppsy? Oh im sorry i murdered your mother,father or sistern or brother but its my bad and life go’s on? They once again are never held responsible?!?!!??! The America we now live in is a quite,disgusting place!!! A place where politicians can kill at will and walk away to their full bank accounts and go on with their lives, while those they hurt are left to suffer,while picking uip the pieces!!! Cuomo and Murphy belong in hell for what they have done along with all others that did the same!!!