Brazil arrests former justice minister in growing riot investigation

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Jan. 14 (UPI) — Brazil’s former Justice Minister Anderson Torres was arrested and taken into custody Saturday in connection with an investigation of the riots that gripped that country’s capital last week.

Torres was arrested early Saturday morning as he left a plane after landing at the airport in São Paulo, Brazil’s federal police confirmed.

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The 47-year-old served as justice minister under former President Jair Bolsonaro and is being investigated for failing to act in his role as security chief to squelch the pro-Bolsonaro riots on Jan. 8. Torres had been on vacation in the United States.

Security forces have taken about 1,200 people into custody since mobs of the former president’s supporters ransacked the Congress building, the presidential palace and Supreme Court in Brasilia on Sunday.

The government of newly-elected President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called the demonstrations “terrorist acts” and branded those involved as “criminals.”

Brazil’s Supreme Court is leading the investigation into the allegations that Torres conspired with rioters and played a part in ensuring a lack of security in the capital, allowing demonstrators to invade public buildings.

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Torres was appointed as secretary of public security of the Federal District after Lula da Silva was officially sworn in Jan. 1.

The district’s governor then fired him after less than a week when protesters began advocating for military intervention to restore Bolsonaro to office.

On Thursday, Lula said he was “convinced” doors were purposely unlocked to allow insurrectionists to enter three government buildings.

He was also critical of the response from law enforcement, going as far as accusing them of neglecting potential threats while accusing Torres of acting with “incompetence.”

Police found a draft of a decree to unconstitutionally change the outcome of the October elections at Torres’ house on Tuesday.

Brazil’s Supreme Court also confirmed on Friday ahead of Torres’ arrest that it will now look into Bolsonaro himself as part of the investigation into the riot. The decision came after a request from the public prosecutor’s office.

The government describes rioters’ actions as “antidemocratic acts.”