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BRASILIA – Brazil’s federal police searched the home of a nephew of former President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday in connection with the Jan. 8 storming of government buildings in the capital by far-right protesters.
Police said Leonardo Rodrigues de Jesus, known by Bolsonaro supporters as Leo Índio, was one of the targets of a series of raids that led to 11 arrests in different states. It was the first time a member of Bolsonaro’s family has been included in the investigations of the uprising in Brasilia, which underlined the political polarization in Brazil.
Police said those under investigation could be tried for crimes against democracy and criminal association.
De Jesus posted his picture near the entrance of the Congress building on social media on the day of the uprising. Later, Bolsonaro’s nephew accused leftists of infiltrating the protest to attack government buildings. Police investigations have found no evidence to back up this claim.
De Jesus has a close relationship to one of Bolsonaro’s sons, Carlos Bolsonaro, a city council member in Rio de Janeiro. The two often appeared together at the presidential palace in Brasilia when the far-right president was in office. Their visits were kept secret by the Bolsonaro administration following opposition criticism.
Carlos Bolsonaro is the head of the former president’s digital operations and a key member of Bolsonaro’s failed reelection bid.
De Jesus was one of Carlos Bolsonaro’s aides in Rio and moved to Brasilia in 2019. He joined a senator’s Cabinet team and later Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party group as an adviser at the Senate. He was later fired after the local media revealed he was a “phantom employee” — someone who did not show up for work but still was paid for the post.
In 2022, he ran as a Federal District councilor but didn’t gather enough votes.
De Jesus has been investigated by Rio de Janeiro’s judicial authorities since 2021, when it was alleged he received money transfers from the Cabinet of one of Bolsonaro’s sons, Flavio, when he was on the city council. Public money was also allegedly used to pay De Jesus’ rent.
The Supreme Court had already requested De Jesus’ preventative arrest in connection with the Jan. 8 attacks, but police said he had not been detained yet. De Jesus can appeal that order, but he declared a lack of funds to pay the costs of his attorneys.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva guaranteed at a meeting with state governors that what happened on Jan. 8 won’t occur again, calling it a coup attempt
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