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Brazil defense minister says military not directly involved in Brasilia riots


Brazil Minister of Defense Jose Mucio said on Friday that the country’s armed forces were not directly involved in the riots by supporters of far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro who stormed government buildings calling for a coup.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has criticized the military for failing to act to stop the riots on Jan 8, a week after he took office, and said they did not provide his government with intelligence on the imminent insurrection.

Mucio met on Friday with Lula and the commanders of the armed forces aiming to reduce tensions. He said the riots were not discussed and the meeting focused on plans for military procurement and investments in Brazil’s defense industry, with business leaders present, the minister said.

“I understand that there was no direct involvement of the Armed Forces, but if anyone was personally involved (in the riots) that will be investigated,” Mucio told reporters after the meeting.

He said investigations and punishment of those found to have vandalized government buildings would be fair.

The storming of government building will not happened again “because the Armed Forces will anticipate it,” Mucio said.

Lula said last week that he suspected there had been collusion by “people in the Armed Forces” and questioned how he could trust military personnel with his personal security after the insurrection.

Lula this week removed army officers from his security details and they will be replaced by federal police, his office said.

Earlier, police carried out raids in five Brazilian states and the capital Brasilia, targeting people suspected of involvement in the attacks.

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Brazil’s Defense Minister Jose Mucio Monteiro attends a news conference at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil January 20, 2023. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

A Brazilian flag is seen through broken glass following the anti-democratic riots, at Planalto Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, January 10, 2023. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo