A high-profile Brazilian political figure and ally of President Jair Bolsonaro has attacked federal police officers with a rifle and hand grenades after they arrived at his house to arrest him.
Roberto Jefferson, a former congressman who has called Bolsonaro a “personal friend”, was jailed in August 2021 as part of an investigation into anti-democratic social media mobs. He had subsequently been released on house arrest in January this year, but a judge ordered his return to prison after he published a vicious attack against a female court worker, in which he compared her to a sex worker.
The 69-year-old was not willing to come peacefully when officers arrived at his home to return him to prison, and fought back against police. Two officers were reported to have sustained non-fatal injuries, while footage from the scene showed a police vehicle riddled with bullet holes.
Jefferson appeared unrepentant in a video posted online. “I shot at the car and close to them,” he freely admitted, claiming he did so “in the name of freedom, democracy and family values”.
Jefferson was finally arrested following an eight-hour stand-off, and is now understood to be facing additional charges as well as his pending return to jail.
The initial response from the Brazilian president appeared to play down the serious nature of the event, with Bolsonaro calling it “an unfortunate incident”. On seeing the public backlash against Jefferson’s actions he sought to distance himself from his former ally, calling the former congressman a “crook”, no doubt conscious of the upcoming presidential election.
Bolsonaro’s opponent in the election, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was more scathing. “Democracy and civilisation will prevail over barbarity,” he tweeted.
Brazilians head to the polls again on October 30th to vote in a run-off election between the two candidates, after neither managed to secure 50% in the first round of voting at the start of the month.