Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro denied any involvement in the anti-government riots by his supporters in January during his appearance before federal police.
Bolsonaro, the far-right leader, is under investigation for his alleged role in masterminding and instigating the riots to overthrow President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro was questioned for more than two hours at the federal police headquarters in Brasilia, but he left without speaking to reporters.
Bolsonaro’s spokesman, Fabio Wajngarten, said that the former president “repudiated all the unfortunate events that happened in Brasilia” on the day of the riot.
The investigation was launched because two days after the riot, Bolsonaro shared a video on social media of a prosecutor contesting the validity of Lula’s victory.
Bolsonaro’s lawyer, Paulo Bueno, said the president had been under the effect of medication when he shared the video. Bueno added that the sharing was so accidental that he did not mention it afterward and soon deleted it.
Lula, who narrowly beat Bolsonaro in a fractious and divisive election last October, took office a week before the riots.
Thousands of Bolsonaro’s supporters stormed Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential palace in Brasilia on January 8, trashing offices, smashing windows, vandalizing artworks, and calling for the military to intervene to oust Lula. Some 1,800 people have been arrested.
Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes opened an investigation into Bolsonaro’s alleged involvement in the January 8 rampage, in which the rioters easily broke through a security cordon.
A parliamentary committee of inquiry will be set up soon in Congress to shed light on the events of January 8.
Bolsonaro was previously questioned by police on April 5 in relation to an accusation that he tried to illegally import millions of dollars worth of jewelry gifted by Saudi Arabia.
Bolsonaro is the subject of at least 16 other investigations in which, if found guilty, he could be sentenced to prison or disqualified from politics.