Brazil court to hold virtual trials for coup defendants

Brazil’s Supreme Court has announced it will use virtual trials to speed up the proceedings of some of the hundreds of defendants accused in the coup attempt earlier this year.

Last week, the High Court sentenced the first three defendants to prison terms ranging from 14 to 17 years for crimes including attempting a coup, abolishing the democratic rule of law and aggravated damages.

The first virtual trial, in which the judges can vote remotely and without having to read the arguments, will take place between September 26 and October 2 and concerns the case of Moacir Jos dos Santos.

The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to hold virtual or in-person trials in the remaining cases against 232 people for their alleged direct involvement in the January 8 attack on the headquarters of the presidency, the National Congress and the Supreme Court.

There are 1390 defendants in the case, although the Supreme Court has authorised the prosecution to negotiate non-prosecution agreements with the 1100 implicated against whom there is no evidence of their direct involvement in the attacks.

Most of defendants were detained in a camp set up in Brasilia by far-right radicals after the October 2022 elections to contest President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva’s victory over his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

On January 8, thousands of Bolsonaristas camped out in Brasilia and others arriving from other cities around the country co-ordinated attacks on the headquarters of the three branches of government in an attempt to forcibly overthrow Lula, who had taken power eight days earlier.

The Supreme Court is also investigating whether Bolsonaro, who did not recognise the election results, encouraged the radical groups supporting him to carry out the attack.

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