Brazilian federal police recommended that former President Jair Bolsonaro be criminally charged for forging his Covid-19 vaccination card, including to travel to the United States during the pandemic.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office will now decide whether to pursue the case further. If so, it would be the first time the former president has been prosecuted.

Brazilian police accused Mr. Bolsonaro of instructing a top aide to obtain fake Covid-19 vaccination cards for himself and his 13-year-old daughter in late 2022, shortly before the former president traveled to Florida for three months following his election defeat to stay there.

Brazilian police said they were waiting for a response from the U.S. Justice Department on whether Mr. Bolsonaro used a fake vaccination card to enter the United States, which could lead to different criminal charges. At this time, most international visitors came to the United States had to provide proof No Covid-19 vaccinations are required to enter the country, and a US official said even a foreign leader would have had to abide by such rules.

Mr Bolsonaro said he had not received a Covid-19 vaccine but denied allegations that he was involved in plots to falsify his vaccination records. His lawyer said in a text message that he was still investigating the allegations.

If convicted of forging his vaccination card, Mr. Bolsonaro could face prison time.

The federal police indictment is the first time that the various criminal investigations against Mr. Bolsonaro have resulted in an indictment.

Mr. Bolsonaro has been questioned and searched as part of several investigations, including into the sale of watches and jewelry he received as gifts from the president from Saudi Arabia and other countries, as well as allegations that he colluded with senior government officials to… Hatching Law plans to try to stay in power after his election defeat in 2022.

Brazil’s electoral court has already barred Mr Bolsonaro from holding public office until 2030 for spreading false information about Brazil’s electoral systems on state television, forcing him to sit out the next presidential campaign in 2026.

During the pandemic, Mr Bolsonaro has been critical of the Covid-19 vaccine, joking that it would turn people into crocodiles, and instead promoting unproven treatments such as hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug.

His government was hesitant to secure vaccines when they were first distributed, worsening the pandemic in Brazil, according to a Brazilian congressional investigation that recommended in 2021 that the former president be prosecuted for his actions during that time, among other things, for “crimes against “Humanity” to accuse the pandemic.

Prosecutors at the time did not file charges against him. More than 700,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Brazil, the second highest nationwide death toll after the United States.

In May 2023, as part of the investigation into the fake vaccination cards, police searched Mr. Bolsonaro’s home, confiscated his cell phone and arrested one of his closest associates and two of his security guards.

In a complaint unsealed on Tuesday, Brazilian Federal Police said records showed that Mr. Bolsonaro’s personal adviser, Lt. Col. Mauro Cid, and Mr. Cid’s wife used fake vaccination cards when entering the United States in 2022. Mr. Bolsonaro, who was arrested last year as part of the investigation, told police that after Mr. Bolsonaro discovered that Mr. Cid had a fake vaccination card, he ordered the employee to get him one too, police said.

Police said records showed that on December 21, 2022, an officer in a Rio de Janeiro suburb entered false records into the city’s health database that Mr. Bolsonaro and his daughter had previously received two doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine would have received year. Police said the former president was not in the Rio de Janeiro suburb on one of the two dates on which Bolsonaro received a vaccine, according to files.

In addition to Mr. Cid, police said several other allies of the former president falsified vaccination certificates in a similar scheme, some of whom used the certificates to accompany Mr. Bolsonaro to the United States. Police also recommended charges against her.

Mr. Bolsonaro spent his first three months of the presidency in a rented house near Disney World outside Orlando.

Mr. Bolsonaro entered the United States several times while the country required visitors to show proof of vaccination, including to attend the United Nations General Assembly and to meet with President Biden in Los Angeles, although those trips in 2022 are similar to that of The plan investigators described as false was preceded by vaccination records.

In 2021, Mr Bolsonaro, who was perhaps the only unvaccinated world leader at the UN General Assembly, opened proceedings with a speech in which he said Brazil would not require anyone to be vaccinated. He added that he recovered from Covid-19 through the use of “off-label” medications.

“History and science will hold everyone accountable,” he said.

During that trip, he and his entourage had difficulty entering New York restaurants that required proof of vaccination. Instead, him I posted a photo of his team eating pizza on the sidewalk. Mr. Bolsonaro’s Health Minister, pictured biting a piece of pizza, tested positive for Covid-19 hours after attending the UN meetings.

Flavia Milhorance contributed to reporting from Rio de Janeiro and Paulo Motoryn from Brasília.

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