BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazilian Federal Police raided the home of a nephew of former President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday as part of the January 8 storming of government buildings in the capital by protesters from far right.
Police say Leonardo Rodrigues de Jesus, known to Bolsonaro supporters as Leo Índio, was one of the targets in a series of raids that led to 11 arrests in different states. It was the first time a member of Bolsonaro’s family had been included in investigations into the Brasilia uprising, underscoring the political polarization in Brazil.
Police said those under investigation could face trial for crimes against democracy and criminal association.
De Jesus posted his photo near the entrance to the Congress building on social media 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 support this claim.
De Jesus has a close relationship with one of Bolsonaro’s sons, Rio de Janeiro City Council member Carlos Bolsonaro. The two often appeared together at the presidential palace in Brasilia when the far-right president was in power. Their visits were kept secret by the Bolsonaro administration following criticism from the opposition.
Carlos Bolsonaro is the former president’s chief digital operations officer and a key member of Bolsonaro’s failed re-election 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 to the Senate. He was later fired after local media revealed he was a «ghost employee» – someone who didn’t show up for work but was still paid for the job.
In 2022, he ran for Councilor of the Federal District but did not garner enough votes.
De Jesus has been under investigation by judicial authorities in Rio de Janeiro since 2021, when it was alleged that he received money transfers from the office 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 called for De Jesus’ preventive arrest in connection with the January 8 attacks, but police said he had not yet been arrested. De Jesus can appeal that order, but he said a lack of funds to pay his attorneys’ fees.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva guaranteed in a meeting with state governors that what happened on January 8 would not happen again, calling it a coup attempt