President Jair Bolsonaro angrily denied links to last year’s assassination of a prominent Brazilian politician on Wednesday after reports that a suspect in the murder investigation visited his residence before the killing.
Marielle Franco, a popular leftist city councilor in Rio de Janeiro, was gunned down alongside her driver in March 2018 – a drive-by shooting that investigators described as a “summary execution.”
Earlier this year, officials announced that two former members of the Brazilian military police – Elcio Vieira de Queiroz and Ronnie Lessa – were identified as suspects in the murder.
The suspects are believed to members of the “Crime Office” – a criminal militia made up of current and ex-law enforcement officials that carry out extrajudicial killings.
Lessa lived in the same Rio de Janeiro residential complex as the president and has been previously shown pictured with Bolsonaro.
— VEJA (@VEJA) October 3, 2019
Meanwhile, de Queiroz also published a photograph of himself alongside Bolsonaro on his Facebook account, since deleted.
On Tuesday night, TV network Globo reported that the second suspect visited the condominium building where Bolsonaro lived the night before the murder, telling the doorman he intended to visit the then-presidential candidate.
Bolsonaro was in Brasilia at the time and it is unclear who in his residence gave permission for the man to enter.
The doorman then watched the man instead visit the home of the second suspect, the broadcaster’s Jornal Nacional program reported, citing a leak from the police investigation.
The new Globo report adds to a series of previously reported professional and personal links between the Bolsonaro family and members of paramilitary gangs, including the murder suspects.
One of Bolsonaro’s sons – Flavio Bolsonaro – employed the wife and the mother of a police captain who was the head of the Crime Office while he was serving as a state representative until 2018.
Before becoming president, Bolsonaro had previously praised vigilante gangs like the Crime Office and was one of a small number of elected officials to never publically condemn the murder of Franco.
Another one of the president’s sons – Carlos Bolsonaro – reportedly dated the daughter of one of the suspects.
Bolsonaro has previously dismissed his family’s links to the Crime Office as “coincidences.”
On Wednesday, he hit back forcefully at the latest report during a 24-minute live broadcast on YouTube from Saudi Arabia, where he is currently on a diplomatic tour.
“I have no reason to kill anyone in Rio de Janeiro,” the president said, appearing agitated and at times shouting through the recording, and accusing Il Globo of “rotten and unscrupulous journalism.”
The tough-talking Bolsonaro frequently lambasts opponents or critics in Brazil and abroad – including political leaders, activists and media outlets – sometimes resorting to vulgar rhetoric to insult them.
Since taking power in January, Bolsonaro has been the target of massive nationwide demonstrations over his policies ranging from education budget cuts to a loosening of gun laws.
The Globe Post’s Bryan Bowman contributed reporting to this article.
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