Lula vows to find those behind attacks on Brazilian government sites

Rio de Janeiro, Jan 10, (dpa/GNA) – Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, promised Monday to identify and hold responsible, those behind the storming of the government district in Brasília a day earlier.

Thousands of rioters, who refuse to acknowledge far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat in recent elections, attacked Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace on Sunday. The former president has not made a public statement explicitly conceding that he lost.

“In the name of defending democracy,” the government would neither be “authoritarian” nor “tepid” in dealing with the perpetrators, Lula said on Brazilian television, after a security meeting with more than 20 governors in Brasília on Monday.

“We’re going to investigate this and find the people who funded the storming,” he added.

After the arrest of 230 suspected rioters on Sunday, Brazilian police cleared a protest camp outside the armed forces headquarters in Brasília on Monday, and took some 1,500 people into temporary custody.

After the Sunday violence, the Supreme Court ordered protesters’ camps to be cleared within 24 hours, prompting the large police operation, the news portal G1 reported.

Brazil’s Supreme Court also temporarily removed Brasília Governor, Ibaneis Rocha from office. An initial 90-day suspension began at 8:30 am (1130 GMT) on Monday. Rocha is seen as a Bolsonaro ally.

Despite clear indications of imminent violent acts, the governor did nothing to ensure public safety, said Justice Alexandre de Moraes.

“The suspension is therefore reasonable, appropriate and proportionate to ensure public order, and put an end to the repeated criminal practice,” he said.

Earlier, Rocha asked for an apology, and sacked his security chief, Bolsonaro’s former justice minister Anderson Torres.

Bolsonaro himself is currently staying in the US state of Florida.

On Monday, the former president tweeted that he had been taken into hospital in Orlando, but was discharged again briefly afterwards. Brazilian newspaper O Globo, had cited him as saying he was suffering from severe stomach pains.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly been hospitalized, including at critical political moments, since an attack during the 2018 election campaign, when he was stabbed, resulting in severe abdominal injuries.

During the violence in Brasília, rioters ransacked the National Congress building, after busting through barricades, climbing on the roof and smashing windows.

Police officers were shown on television escorting Bolsonaro supporters into the government quarter before the attack, filming themselves with mobile phones.

Only a few officers confronted rioters in the Congress building, and they were quickly pushed back by the mob.

The rioters then directed their rage toward the nearby Supreme Court and the Palácio do Planalto, the official workplace of the president.

It took security forces several hours to regain control of the area.

Lula, who called the assault an attempted coup, signed a federal intervention decree, allowing the government to assume responsibility for public security in Brasília, “in response to the terrorist acts.”

In a phone call with the Brazilian president on Monday, US President Joe Biden “conveyed the unwavering support” of his country “for Brazil’s democracy and for the free will of the Brazilian people as expressed in Brazil’s recent presidential election.”

Biden also invited Lula for “in-depth consultations on a wide-ranging shared agenda” at the White House in early February, which the Brazilian president accepted, according to a joint statement.