RIO DE JANEIRO, March 13 (Reuters) – Brazilian former President Jair Bolsonaro will be called to testify as part of an investigation into accusations he tried to illegally bring $3.2 million of jewelry into the country, Justice Minister Flavio Dino said on Monday.
“We have inquiries in progress, hearings taking place, and at some point, the former president will be subpoenaed,” Dino told reporters after an event in Rio de Janeiro.
There was no deadline or date set for Bolsonaro to be subpoenaed, the minister said, adding that if the former president – who is in self-imposed exile in the United States – fails to testify, Brazil “may or may not” seek international legal cooperation.
Luxury jewelry gifted to the then-president and his wife Michelle Bolsonaro by the Saudi government was seized by customs officials in October 2021 after it was found in the backpack of a government aide. Several officials from the Bolsonaro administration unsuccessfully tried to recover the jewelry from customs, according to local media.
Brazilians are allowed to bring in $1,000 of goods or gifts and pay hefty taxes for anything over that value.
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Bolsonaro has previously denied any wrongdoing.
On Monday, Bolsonaro’s lawyer said in a letter to the police that the former president will deliver accounts of a second gift he received from the Saudi government to a Brazilian court.
The lawyer stressed that at no time Bolsonaro “intended to enrich himself with property that could, in any way, be regarded as public”, also asking that the second set of jewelry be held in public custody until the conclusion of the investigation.
According to the minister, police will conclude the investigation into whether or not Bolsonaro attends a hearing.
“The deposition is an opportunity for his defense… We are facing facts that have documentary evidence, images, films, officers and papers, material evidence, and there are hearings, oral evidence,” said Dino.
Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Additional reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Sandra Maler
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