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Lula removes 40 soldiers from presidential residence as thousands hit with charges over failed Brazilian coup

BRAZIL’S President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva removed 40 soldiers from the detail at his presidential residence after vowing a staffing clean-up following the attempted coup on January 8.

Lula claims that the backers of far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro who attacked the presidential palace, Supreme Court and Congress most likely had inside help.

He ordered a thorough staffing review, saying he was “convinced that the door of the Planalto (presidential) palace was opened for people to enter because there are no broken doors.”

In a notice published in the official gazette on Tuesday, it was announced that 40 soldiers have been removed from the presidential detail at Alvorada palace, where Brazil’s presidents live.

The president said last week that any “radical Bolsonarista” found still working for the government would be dealt with, and cited media reports of alleged threats made by personnel inherited from the previous administration.

Lula said that members of the security services may have been involved in the uprising and asked: “How can I have a person outside my office who might shoot me?”

Mr Bolsonaro went to the United States two days before Lula’s inauguration and is now being investigated on suspicion of instigating the uprising.

The former president denies any link to the attempted coup.

This comes as the office of Brazil’s prosecutor-general has presented its first charges against some of the thousands of people who authorities say stormed government buildings in an effort to overturn Lula’s election.

The prosecutors in the recently formed group to combat anti-democratic acts have also requested that the 39 defendants who ransacked Congress be imprisoned as a preventive measure, and that $7.7 million (£6.2m) of their assets be frozen to help cover damages.

The defendants have been charged with armed criminal association, violent attempt to subvert the democratic state of law, staging a coup and damage to public property, the prosecutor-general’s office said in a written statement on Monday night. 

The identities of the defendants have not yet been released.

More than a thousand people were arrested on the day of the January 8 riot, which bore strong similarities to the January 6 2021 riots at the US Congress by mobs seeking to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election loss.

The prosecutor-general’s office sent its charges to the Supreme Court after the Senate’s president, Rodrigo Pacheco, last week provided a list of people accused of rampaging through Congress. 

More rioters are expected to face charges.

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