Brazil’s supreme court has sentenced a far-right supporter, Aécio Lúcio Costa Pereira, to 17 years in prison for his involvement in the failed attempt to overthrow the country’s left-wing government on January 8th of the current year.
Pereira, a sanitation worker from São Paulo, became the first rioter to face trial for his role in the dramatic assault on Latin America’s largest democracy.
The court’s majority, consisting of 11 members, ruled that Pereira, a staunch supporter of former President Jair Bolsonaro, actively sought to overthrow Bolsonaro’s successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, during the riot in Brasília that occurred eight days after Lula took office.
Justice Alexandre de Moraes, of the Supreme Court, called for a 17-year sentence, stating that those who plotted the attack were “enemies of freedom” and deserved exemplary punishment for their “dastardly putschist attack.” Six of his colleagues on the court confirmed this judgment.
The Supreme Court’s president, Rosa Weber, referred to the events of January 8th as Brazil’s “day of disgrace.” She emphasised that the evidence presented during the trial demonstrated that Pereira and other rioters had stormed key government institutions, including the Supreme Court, presidential palace, and Congress, with the intention of triggering a military intervention to unseat Lula. Weber stated that the mob had attempted to abolish the democratic rule of law and depose a legitimately elected government.
The verdict was met with satisfaction by members of Lula’s administration, with Gleisi Hoffmann, the president of Lula’s Worker’s Party (PT), expressing support for Brazilian democracy and emphasising that all participants, financial backers, and masterminds of the coup attempt should be held accountable for their actions.
Many in Brazil also hope that investigations into the alleged role of former President Bolsonaro and some of his close allies in the January violence will lead to justice. Critics accuse Bolsonaro of inciting the uprising against Lula’s government to retain power after losing the previous October’s election, a claim that Bolsonaro denies.
Federal police investigators are examining the potential involvement of Bolsonaro and his allies in the alleged plot to seize power, and recent developments, such as Lt Col Mauro Cid’s plea-bargain deal obliging him to provide information in several investigations, including the attempted coup, have added to the intrigue surrounding the case.