Brazilian police searching the home of former President Jair Bolsonaro’s justice minister found a draft decree proposing the introduction of a state of defense to nullify the country’s presidential election results, the spokeswoman said from the ministry to CNN.
The spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice, Lorena Ribeiro, said on Tuesday that the Federal Police found the document while carrying out a search and arrest warrant at the home of Anderson Torres.
He said he was proposing to implement a “state of defense” at the Superior Electoral Court while Bolsonaro was still in power to overturn the victory of his rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in the October election. The draft had not been signed by Bolsonaro, Ribeiro said.
The state of defense is a legal measure that allows the sitting president to intervene in other areas of government to ensure public order. While Bolsonaro lost the October election, he remained president until the end of December.
CNN has not seen the document and Torres – who served as Minister of Justice until the Bolsonaro administration left office – has issued a statement on social networks denying that he was the author of the decree.
“As Minister of Justice, we are faced with hearings, suggestions and proposals of a more diverse kind,” he wrote. “In my house there were a lot of documents to discard, where the material described in the article was most likely found,” he added. “Everything would be taken to shred the Ministry of Justice in due course.”
Torres suggested that the draft decree had been deliberately leaked to the media to discredit it.
“The cited document was collected when I was not there and leaked out of context, helping to fuel false narratives against me. We were the first ministry to deliver management reports for the transition (of power),” he said. “I respect Brazilian democracy. I have a clear conscience regarding my role as minister.”
After leaving the government, Torres took over as head of security for the Federal District of Brasilia, but was fired on Sunday after protesters broke through police barriers and stormed government buildings. He had traveled to Orlando, Florida, allegedly on vacation, just days before the riots and was there as the events unfolded.
Torres vowed to cut his vacation short and face justice after Brazil’s Supreme Court issued search and arrest warrants, denying any wrongdoing.
Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court issued Torres with a preventive detention order based on an arrest warrant issued on Wednesday.
The draft documents were first published by Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo on Thursday.
Brazil’s new justice minister, Flavio Dino, told CNN Brazil on Thursday that the existence of the draft decree was “appalling” and said what it was asking for was “unconstitutional.”
“I have not had access to the document and, according to press reports, it was a coup decree which emphasizes what we saw on January 8 (the day of the riots), which was not an isolated case . It was an element of a chain, a link in a copyist chain in Brazil that had preparatory and surprising acts, such as a decree of military intervention in the Electoral Court, which is unconstitutional,” said Dino.
He also criticized Torres for keeping the document at home. “A public agent, having knowledge of a crime, should not keep this document at home. It is something that really shows the will to close the Supreme Court, the Congress, to prevent the freedom of the Brazilian people to choose their rulers. And all attempts failed, including the one on January 8.”
“What I can say to the Brazilian nation is that if someone gives me a document of these characteristics, I would be arrested, because it is a criminal. I wouldn’t keep it, I wouldn’t shred it,” Dino said.