Brazil lawmaker arrested for video insulting Supreme Court

By: AFP      Published: 11:13 AM, 17 Feb, 2021
Brazil lawmaker arrested for video insulting Supreme Court
File photo of Brazilian president.

A Brazilian congressman allied with President Jair Bolsonaro was arrested Tuesday on the orders of a Supreme Court justice after he posted a video online in which he insulted and threatened the high court's judges.

Daniel Silveira, an ex-cop serving his first term in Brazil's lower house of Congress, was arrested by federal police at his home in Petropolis, in Rio de Janeiro state, on a warrant issued by Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes.

"At this moment, 11:19 pm, the federal police are here in my house with an arrest warrant issued by Alexandre de Moraes," Silveira said in a video posted on Twitter as the raid unfolded.

"Justice Moraes, I want you to know you are getting into a fight you can't win. There's no use trying to shut me up."

The arrest came shortly after Moraes issued a ruling that Silveira violated the constitution by calling for the Supreme Court to be shut down.

In that video, Silveira also defended Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship -- which Bolsonaro often praises, despite its record of human-rights violations -- and said the Supreme Court's judges deserved "a thrashing."

"They have no character, scruples or morals," he said.

The video was part of an ongoing campaign against the high court by Bolsonaro supporters and allies.

Hardline backers of the far-right president claim the court and Congress are conspiring to block his agenda, and have staged angry protests calling for both to be dissolved.

The Supreme Court last year ordered an investigation into protest leaders over accusations of plotting the overthrow of Brazil's democratic institutions.

Silveira is among those under investigation.

Moraes wrote in his decision that while Brazil's constitution guarantees free speech, that does not include "criminal acts aimed at harming a branch of government and the democratic rule of law."

In an unusual measure, he ordered police to detain the congressman "immediately and regardless of the hour, given that this is a case of in flagrante delicto," or a crime in progress.

As a lawmaker, Silveira will now have his arrest reviewed by the lower house, which could overturn it.