Jair Bolsonaro has said he is preparing to leave the US and return home in the next few weeks, as prosecutors in Brazil seek to freeze the former president’s assets after riots in the capital by his radical followers.
The far-right populist came under fire after an attack on the government district in Brasilia on Sunday by thousands of extremists calling for the overthrow of the new government led by leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Bolsonaro has been in Florida since the end of last year when his term expired, after he narrowly lost the election to his bitter political enemy.
“I came [to the United States] to stay until the end of the month [January]but I intend to improve my comeback,” he told CNN Brasil.
After criminals stormed and ransacked Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential palace, the White House faced calls from prominent politicians to oust Bolsonaro. Critics in the US and Brazil have accused the former president of encouraging extremism and disrespecting democratic institutions.
Public prosecutors in the Latin American nation on Tuesday submitted a request to the federal auditor’s court to seize Bolsonaro’s assets. Officials said the money should go to pay for repairs to public property damaged during the riots.
Investigators have also expanded their investigation into the organizers and financiers of the incidents in the Brazilian capital. People in the country’s powerful agricultural sector are under scrutiny, says the justice minister.
Bolsonaro, who is subject to multiple legal investigations in his country, distanced himself from the attacks, which he said “crossed the line”.
But he appears to have avoided any potential expulsion from his overseas trip and is expected to return voluntarily.
The 67-year-old was admitted to hospital on Monday with stomach pains from injuries he sustained when he was stabbed on the 2018 campaign trail.
Bolsonaro told CNN Brazil that doctors in Brazil are more familiar with his intestinal obstruction, which has resulted in previous hospital stays.
“I came to spend some time with my family.” But I didn’t have quiet days. First, there was this regrettable episode [on Sunday] in Brazil and then my hospitalization,” he added.
A person close to the Bolsonaro family said that the former president wanted to be treated by a doctor in his homeland.
His departure would ease the problem for US President Joe Biden’s administration. Democratic lawmakers Joaquin Castro and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are among those calling for Bolsonaro’s ouster.
Bolsonaro rejected Lula’s allegations that he incited violent disorder. In scenes reminiscent of the invasion of the US Capitol two years earlier, the perpetrators destroyed government buildings, which were empty for the summer recess. Hundreds of people were arrested and detained.
“Don’t try to create a narrative of lies as if Bolsonaro had anything to do with these irresponsible actions,” Bolsonaro’s son Flavio, a senator, said during a Senate session on Tuesday. He added that his father had been “practically incommunicado” since the election defeat.
Renan Calheiros, a prominent Brazilian senator, earlier asked the country’s Supreme Court to “immediately” extradite the former president, saying his involvement in Sunday’s riots was “irrefutable.”
Additional reporting by Karolina Ingiza