Brazil’s Federal Police have indicted former President Jair Bolsonaro on charges of money laundering and criminal association. These charges are linked to undeclared diamonds he received from Saudi Arabia during his presidency. This information comes from a source familiar with the case.

Indictment Details
Another source confirmed the indictment but did not specify the exact crimes. Both sources requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the information. The indictment report is yet to be reviewed by Brazil’s Supreme Court. Once received, Prosecutor-General Paulo Gonet will determine whether to pursue charges, potentially leading to a trial for Bolsonaro.

Previous Legal Troubles
This marks Bolsonaro’s second indictment since leaving office. In May, he was indicted for allegedly falsifying his COVID-19 vaccination certificate. This new indictment intensifies the legal pressures on the former leader, which his opponents welcome but his supporters denounce as political persecution. Bolsonaro and his lawyers have consistently denied any wrongdoing in these and other investigations, including one concerning his alleged role in inciting an uprising in Brasilia on January 8, 2023.

Diamond Smuggling Allegations
Last year, Federal Police accused Bolsonaro of attempting to smuggle diamond jewelry valued at $3 million and selling two luxury watches. In August, police reported that Bolsonaro received nearly $70,000 from the sale of two luxury watches, gifts from Saudi Arabia. Brazilian law mandates that citizens declare goods worth more than $1,000 and pay a tax on amounts exceeding this threshold. The jewelry would have been tax-exempt if it were a gift to Brazil, not a personal gift to Bolsonaro.

Involvement of Aides and Family
The investigation revealed that Mauro Cid, Bolsonaro’s former aide-de-camp, sold a Rolex and a Patek Philippe watch in the U.S. for $68,000 in June 2022. These watches were gifts from the Saudi government in 2019. Cid later admitted to the transactions in a plea bargain. Additionally, Bolsonaro’s son, Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, condemned the indictment as blatant persecution.

Broader Implications and Reactions
Bolsonaro’s indictment also includes ten others, such as his lawyers Frederick Wassef and Fábio Wajngarten. Wassef criticized the investigation’s selective leaks, while Wajngarten insisted on his innocence. Despite the legal challenges, Bolsonaro maintains strong support among his political base. In February, an estimated 185,000 supporters rallied in Sao Paulo against what they perceive as political persecution.

Critics, especially those aligned with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, have welcomed the indictment. Psychologist Deborah Santos, a resident of Sao Paulo, expressed satisfaction, noting that the allegations challenge Bolsonaro’s claims of honesty.

Bolsonaro’s Controversial Legacy
Bolsonaro, a former army captain, began his political career advocating for Brazil’s military dictatorship. His 2018 presidential bid, initially seen as a long shot, succeeded due to his image as an anti-corruption crusader. His presidency, however, was marked by divisive policies and rhetoric. Bolsonaro lost his re-election bid in 2022 by a narrow margin.

Future Legal Battles
Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University, believes Brazil’s Supreme Court will proceed cautiously with Bolsonaro’s prosecution to avoid inflaming his supporters. This indictment adds to Bolsonaro’s legal woes, which could complicate his political future. Last year, Brazil’s top electoral court barred Bolsonaro from running for office until 2030, following abuses of presidential power during his 2022 campaign.

Upcoming Events
Bolsonaro is scheduled to meet Argentinian President Javier Milei at a conservative conference in Brazil’s Balneario Camboriu this weekend. This event highlights his continued influence and the ongoing political polarization in Brazil.