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Brazilian ex-president Jair Bolsonaro indicted for faking his Covid-19 vaccine data

Former president of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro has been indicted for allegedly falsifying his Covid-19 vaccine records.

Federal police allege that Mr Bolsonaro falsified information in the country’s public health database in December 2022 to falsely make it appear that he, his daughter and several other close allies had received the Covid-19 vaccine, according to The Associated Press.

He also faces charges of criminal association.

The indictment comes after a long investigation by federal police into whether Mr Bolsonaro falsified his Covid-19 vaccine card to get around US requirements.

Mauro Cid, former aide to Mr Bolsonaro, was also indicted as part of the investigation, according to Reuters.

Last year, Mr Bolsonaro denied allegations that he falsified the data and said he had never claimed to be vaccinated.

A legal analyst told The AP that Mr Bolsonaro faces between two to twelve years behind bars if convicted of falsifying health data. Meanwhile, the criminal association charge carries a four-year sentence, the analyst said.

Jair Bolsonaro has been indicted on charges related to suspected falsification of his Covid-19 vaccine records (AFP via Getty Images)
Jair Bolsonaro has been indicted on charges related to suspected falsification of his Covid-19 vaccine records (AFP via Getty Images)

The former president has long rejected the Covid-19 vaccine, instead advocating for the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug also touted by Donald Trump. However, hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, has been proven to not be effective against Covid-19.

During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, Mr Bolsonaro also ignored emails from Pfizer offering to sell millions of vaccines to Brazil, The AP reported.

In 2021, he then faced accusations of corruption after finally purchasing vaccines from Indian pharmaceutical Bharat Biotech. A health ministry official at the time said he felt pressured to greenlight the agreement despite irregularities in invoices.

Both Mr Bolsonaro and the company denied any wrongdoing.

Aside from this case, the former president is also facing several separate legal challenges. Last year, a panel of judges barred Mr Bolsonaro from running for office until 2030 after ruling he abused his power during the 2022 election and cast unfounded doubts on the country’s electronic voting systems.

Federal police are also investigating Mr Bolsonaro for his suspected role in a series of attacks on government buildings on 8 January 2023 by his supporters after he lost the election to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – in a day that brought back memories of the January 6 riots on the US Capitol.

Mr Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing in connection to those attacks. Earlier this year, federal investigators launched “Operation Tempus Veritatis” — ‘Hour of Truth” in Latin — into the incident, by conducting dozens of searches and arresting several of Mr Bolsonaro’s allies.

Mr Bolsonaro has long aligned with Mr Trump and the American far-right. Last year, he spoke at several conservative events, including the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference. He also gave remarks outside of one of Mr Trump’s hotels in Miami, Florida, at an event hosted by conservative activist Charlie Kirk.