Brazilian court rules Bolsonaro cannot run for office until 2030 over election fraud claims

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been barred from running for office again until 2030. A panel of judges concluded that he had abused his power in calling into question the country's electronic voting system.

Five judges in the country's highest electoral court stated that Bolsonaro had used government communication channels to promote his campaign and instill skepticism over the vote. Two judges voted against the motion, per AP.

The decision likely erases any chance of Bolsonaro regaining political power in the country.

The Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) tried Bolsonaro over charges that he abused his office and media when he allegedly made false claims about the security flaws of electronic voting systems. On Thursday, three judges had ruled against the president and one in favor. However, the proceedings were put off until Friday morning.

Prosecutors had attempted to draw a line between Bolsonaro’s statements and actions taken by his supporters, which included storming the presidential palace, Congress, and the Supreme Court on January 8. This came just one week after Bolsonaro was defeated by leftwing politician, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro apparently did not appear in court in Brasilia, but instead traveled to Rio de Janeiro, where he shared with reporters that “unfortunately, talking about vaccines, voting, ballot boxes… has become a crime.”

Earlier, he had proclaimed his innocence, saying: “Wanting to take away my political rights for abuse of political power is inexplicable.”

However, the lead judge on the case, Benedito Goncalves, did not buy Bolsonaro’s defense and ruled to convict the ex-president. Goncalves said Bolsonaro had used “violent speech and lies” that “endangered the credibility” of the nation’s voting system.

The judge added that ex-president's words “served to incite a state of collective paranoia” about the electoral system when the country was already in a state of polarization. “He instigated a belief that there was a real threat the results of the 2022 election would be adulterated,” Goncalves said. 

“It was extremely harmful to the democratic environment.”

In late March, Bolsonaro came out of his self-imposed exile in Florida to lead the opposition against Lula da Silva. At the time, NBC News reported that Bolsonaro left Brazil before the end of his presidential term, thus breaking with the tradition of handing over the presidential sash to Lula da Silva.

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