Receive free Brazilian society updates
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Brazilian society news every morning.
Brazil’s supreme court on Thursday delivered a 17-year sentence to the first person convicted of storming and vandalising government buildings in January.
Aécio Lúcio Costa Pereira was convicted on five charges by the court, which has signalled it will show little clemency to those involved in the riots on January 8.
The 51-year-old São Paulo resident was the first to be sentenced among hundreds of defendants charged in connection with the insurrection, which the leftwing government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had described as an “attempted coup”.
The riots began after thousands of supporters of rightwing former president Jair Bolsonaro marched in Brasília in protest against Lula’s election. Upon reaching the city’s political nerve centre, they found congress, the supreme court and the presidential palace only lightly guarded and proceeded to storm them.
Although few personal injuries were reported as officials and lawmakers were away on recess, the protesters caused substantial material damage.
Rosa Weber, the supreme court’s chief justice, previously described the vandalism as a “scenario of Dante-esque devastation”.
The insurrection quickly fizzled out and thousands were arrested after. Some 1,400 are expected to face trial over the coming weeks and months.
In addition to criminal association and damage to state property, Costa Pereira was convicted of seeking to abolish the democratic rule and attempting a coup.
The 17-year sentence was in line with that requested by Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who has taken a firm stance against Bolsonaro’s radical supporters.
“They did not come for fun, but rather with the purpose of launching a coup,” he said during trial on Wednesday. “What happened on January 8 was a very violent act against the democratic rule of law.”
André Janones, a federal lawmaker aligned with the Lula government, called the verdict a “milestone”.
“After these trials, we can turn a page in our history and establish ourselves as one of the most consolidated democracies in the world. Fascism won’t grow around here,” he said on social media.
Bolsonaro, who was in Florida at the time of the riots, has denied any involvement, although police are investigating whether he incited the rioters with his social media posts.
He is also facing investigation in connection with a separate jewellery scandal in which he and members of his inner circle are accused of conspiring to sell expensive gifts from overseas dignitaries for personal gain. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Read the full article here