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Brazil’s Bolsonaro accuses top judge of abuse of power
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RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has filed a complaint with the Supreme Court accusing one of its judges of abusing his authority, marking the latest escalation in clashes between the far-right leader and the top jurisdiction.

The lawsuit filed Monday targets Judge Alexandre de Moraes, who is overseeing an investigation into whether some of Bolsonaro’s most ardent allies are running a social media network aimed at spreading threats and fake news against Supreme Court justices.

In his complaint, Bolsonaro accused de Moraes of slowing down the investigation into fake news and damaging his image in an election year.

The complaint also has a broader political context: De Moraes will chair the country’s electoral authority in the upcoming elections, when Bolsonaro seeks a second term, and the president has repeatedly raised questions about the fairness of the vote.

Bolsonaro began to show animosity towards the Supreme Court with the opening of the so-called fake news inquiry in 2019. He has openly feuded with the court since the start of the pandemic, when judges ruled that mayors and governors had jurisdiction to determine restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus;

Bolsonaro was a staunch opponent of lockdowns and other restrictions. Last year, he asked the Senate to impeach de Moraes and threatened to ignore the court’s rulings.

“Either the investigation (fake news) extends unjustifiably to the detriment of those investigated, since after more than thirty-six months there is not even a partial report of the investigations. Or, there are partial reports and justifications for continuing the investigation that are hidden from the defense (attorneys),” the complaint stated.

Bolsonaro’s lawyer also questioned the rationale for including the president as a target of the investigation. Bolsonaro was included after hosting a live social media show in which he challenged the reliability of electronic voting machines. He repeatedly cast doubt on the electoral system, but never presented evidence of fraud.

Luiz Claudio Araujo, a law professor at IBMec University, said the Supreme Court could either open an internal investigation, which would be conducted by the police, forward the complaint to the attorney general’s office for review, or ignore the complaint.

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