Federal Police Launch Operation against Rio de Janeiro Governor

Operation targets misuse of resources in the coronavirus pandemic, which Wilson Witzel, disaffected by the president, denies

Brasília and Rio de Janeiro

The Federal Police targeted Rio governor Wilson Witzel (PSC), a political opponent of Jair Bolsonaro, in an operation on Tuesday that raised suspicions of the President's interference in the Federal Police.

The Federal Police, which falls under the Justice Ministry, searched the Laranjeiras Palace and seized the governor's cell phone and computer. The Superior Court of Justice authorized the operation, named Placebo.

It targets an alleged scheme of embezzlement of public resources destined to fight the coronavirus. The investigation opened on the 13th, based on information from investigative authorities in the state of Rio.

Brazilian federal police vehicles leave Laranjeiras Palace, Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel's residence during a corruption investigation involving the use of public money destined to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares - REUTERS

According to investigators, the PF also sought evidence at the Guanabara Palace, where the governor, in his old house, used before he was elected, and in his wife's office.

For Witzel, who denies the irregularities, the interference with the PF is "properly made official." João Doria (PSDB-SP) said that the operation was forewarned the day before by deputy Carla Zambelli (PSL-SP).

"Congratulations to the Federal Police, I heard about it now," said Bolsonaro as he left the Palácio da Alvorada.

Witzel is disaffected by President Jair Bolsonaro (without a party), who recently changed the head of the Federal Police. This gesture motivated the departure of the then Minister of Justice, Sergio Moro.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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