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Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is facing multiple probes following his term in office, with his first indictment being for allegedly falsifying his COVID vaccine record. The federal police recommended that Bolsonaro be prosecuted for forging his vaccination certificate, with allegations that he ordered aides to falsify his health record in order to travel internationally. Bolsonaro, known for dismissing the severity of the pandemic during his presidency, is facing potential charges of criminal association and insertion of false data into the public system, both punishable by imprisonment. His defense team claims that he did not know about the forged certificates and that whoever did so acted on their own initiative, while the attorney general’s office will decide whether to file charges.

Bolsonaro faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic, opposing lockdown measures and telling Brazilians to “stop whining” as deaths reached record highs. While public health records showed he received the vaccine in Sao Paulo in July 2022, the comptroller’s office found that this information was fraudulently entered. A close aide to Bolsonaro, army colonel Mauro Cid, admitted to introducing fake data into the public health system for Bolsonaro and his daughter and providing the certificates to the then-president. Cid was arrested in connection with the scheme and later released after a plea deal, while Bolsonaro’s defense team has complained of political persecution and claimed that as president, he was exempt from presenting vaccination certificates on his trips.

Aside from the forgery allegations, Bolsonaro is facing other legal challenges, including an investigation into whether he attempted to bring expensive diamond jewelry into Brazil without it being incorporated into the presidency’s public collection. The most serious of the inquiries is focused on his alleged involvement in an uprising in Brasilia on January 8, with police probing whether he planned a coup to stay in power after losing the 2022 election. Witnesses have testified that Bolsonaro had planned to ask for military intervention in case he lost the election, as his supporters besieged government buildings during his successor’s inauguration. The alleged forgery is Bolsonaro’s first indictment since leaving office, with potential consequences including up to 12 years behind bars for the alleged offenses.

With several investigations ongoing, it is expected that police could conclude their inquiries by July, possibly leading to Bolsonaro’s imprisonment. The former president, known for his far-right stance and populist following, is facing a range of charges that could have significant implications for his future. The allegations of the forged vaccination certificate are just one of the legal challenges that Bolsonaro is currently facing, with the possibility of further charges being filed depending on the outcome of ongoing investigations. Bolsonaro and his defense team continue to deny any knowledge or involvement in the alleged offenses, while the legal process unfolds in Brazil’s Supreme Court and attorney general’s office.

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