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Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro indicted for allegedly falsifying Covid vaccination data

Brazil’s former leader Jair Bolsonaro has been indicted by the country’s federal police on suspicion of fraud over allegations that he falsified Covid-19 vaccination data while he was still president, affiliate CNN Brasil reported Tuesday.

Police say the far-right leader allegedly ordered one of his closest aides to enter false vaccination data into the Ministry of Health’s system for himself and his daughter, according to CNN Brasil.

“Evidence collected” for the investigation shows Bolsonaro acted willingly when he allegedly ordered the false data to be added into the country’s health system, police said according to CNN Brasil.

Bolsonaro’s closest aide, Lieutenant-Colonel Mauro Cid, and 15 others were also indicted for allegedly participating in the same scheme.

Bolsonaro’s lawyer, Fabio Wajngarten, called the indictment “absurd.”

“The whole world knows (Bolsonaro’s) personal opinion on the subject of vaccination,” he wrote on X. “While serving as president, he was completely exempt from presenting any type of certificate on his trips.”

Last May, Brazilian Police carried out a search and seizure in Bolsonaro’s home in Brasilia in connection with the suspected falsified vaccination data.

At the time, Bolsonaro told reporters he had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 and that his vaccination card had not been tampered with.

Brazil’s Prosecutor’s Office will now have to determine if they move forward with the indictment.

Bolsonaro was widely criticized at home and abroad for downplaying the severity of the virus during the pandemic, including discouraging people from getting vaccinated, despite Brazil battling a severe coronavirus outbreak.

In 2021, he publicly flouted a UN requirement that required foreign delegations to be vaccinated before entering its headquarters in New York. Multiple members of his delegation later tested positive for the virus.

The indictment comes as Bolsonaro faces mounting legal challenges, including an investigation into an alleged attempted coup plot to keep him in power after he lost the 2022 presidential election. Several former ministers who served in Bolsonaro’s government are also being investigated and some of his aides have been arrested.

After Bolsonaro lost the election by a narrow margin to leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, his supporters rioted and broke into government buildings in Brasilia on January 8, 2023. Bolsonaro has denied inciting the violent attacks in the capital.

Last year, Bolsonaro was barred from running for political office until 2030 by the country’s highest electoral court for abusing his power and misusing public media during the 2022 election campaign.

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