Brazil’s Supreme Court convicts first defendant in January 8 coup trial

Aecio Lucio Costa Pereira was sentenced to 17 years in prison

The Brazilian Supreme Court voted on Thursday to convict the first person to stand trial for the storming of government buildings in the capital Brasilia on January 8 to 17 years in prison.

A majority of the justices voted to convict Aecio Lucio Costa Pereira, a former employee of water utility Sabesp, who was arrested in the Senate building during the invasion. The 51-year-old had traveled to Brasilia from Sao Paolo and filmed himself on the Senate seat/throne wearing a shirt bearing the words “Military intervention now.”

“They want to make people believe that the accused were just strolling through Disneyland. They were possessed by an irrational, almost pathological, hatred,” said Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who also serves as the head of Brazil’s electoral authority

In January, supporters of far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro invaded and vandalized Brazil’s Congress, the presidential palace, and the Supreme Court precisely one week after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office, protesting his victory in the October election and calling for a military coup. The events were reminiscent of the United States’ January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Thursday’s decision was the opener of a first batch as four people who were directly involved in the invasions stand trial. Pereira was convicted of all crimes he stood accused of, including attempted coup d’etat, damage to historic buildings, and criminal association. He was also fined 30 million reales (US$6 million) for collective moral damages, a sum to be paid by all the defendants.

“The objective was, through the use of violence, to besiege Brasilia and propagate criminal acts throughout the country to attack the rule of law,” said Supreme Court Justice Cristiano Zanin.

Bolsonaro is being investigated on several fronts and is in the spotlight as a possible instigator of the uprising. The former president, who was recently declared ineligible to run for office for the next eight years for spreading misinformation about the electoral system, was in the US when the attacks took place and has denied any involvement.

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