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Brazil judge orders probe of accusations against Bolsonaro

A Brazilian judge has ordered an investigation of allegations that President Jair Bolsonaro sought to interfere in police investigations
A Brazilian judge has ordered an investigation of allegations that President Jair Bolsonaro sought to interfere in police investigations EVARISTO SA AFP/File
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Brasília (AFP)

A Brazilian supreme court judge on Monday ordered an investigation into accusations by ex-justice and security minister Sergio Moro that President Jair Bolsonaro sought to "interfere" with police investigations.

In his decision, obtained by AFP, Judge Celso de Mello gave the federal police 60 days to question Moro about his explosive allegations.

The findings, which will be handed over to the attorney general, could result in either a request for a political trial against Bolsonaro or an indictment against Moro for false testimony.

According to the judge, "the crimes allegedly practiced by the President of the Republic" seem to have "an intimate connection with the exercise of the presidential mandate," which allows for an investigation of the president.

Moro, a former anti-corruption judge, resigned on Friday after clashing with Bolsonaro over the sacking of the federal police chief.

He hit out at "political interference" with the federal police, saying he could not do his job without "autonomy" for the force.

The judge's document lists seven accusations against Bolsonaro, including malfeasance and obstruction of justice.

Should the investigation confirm the accusations, it will be up to the Brazilian Congress to initiate an impeachment process against Bolsonaro and potentially remove him from office.

A poll published Monday night shows divided opinions about Bolsonaro's future, with 45 percent of Brazilians saying Congress should open an impeachment process against the right-wing leader.

In comparison, 48 percent think Bolsonaro should not be impeached, according to the Datafolha poll, which ran in the Folha de S. Paulo daily.

The tensions come at the height of the global health crisis over the coronavirus. Last week, Bolsonaro fired his health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who supported isolation as a tool to contain the spread of the pandemic. Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the danger of COVID-19.

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