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UPDATE 1-Ex-Federal Police detectives criticize Brazil's 'authoritarian and illegal' Supreme Court

·2 min read

(Adds statement from federal police organizations)

By Gabriel Stargardter

RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 26 (Reuters) - A group of retired Federal Police detectives has released a statement accusing members of Brazil's Supreme Court of using the force to take what they called "authoritarian and illegal measures".

The statement by about 100 ex-officers comes just days after Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes authorized a Federal Police raid on wealthy supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro.

According to a report by online news site Metropoles, the businessmen had discussed in WhatsApp groups the virtues of a military coup if the far-right leader lost his upcoming re-election attempt.

The raid fueled questions about the commitment of Bolsonaro and his supporters to Brazil's young democracy, which followed a 1964-85 military dictatorship. It also lead some to accuse the crusading Moraes - one of the president's main adversaries - of judicial overreach ahead of the Oct. 2 election.

The retired detectives' statement indicates how the political polarization and generational divide that has riven Brazil is also causing tensions within the Federal Police, Brazil's top law enforcement agency.

It said the raid was an affront to citizens' rights and that Moraes' decision to authorize the raid was an "evident abuse of power... which hurts the image and reputation of our beloved Federal Police".

"In view of our years of experience...(we) hereby express our nonconformity and indignation at the use of the Federal Police as an instrument for the implementation of authoritarian and illegal measures by members of the Federal Supreme Court," it said.

The Federal Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Supreme Court declined to comment.

Active federal police officers told Reuters that the former detectives' statement did not reflect current thinking within the force. But they acknowledged it was not immune to the political tensions wracking Brazil ahead of the election.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain who has long defended Brazil's military dictatorship, trails his leftist rival, ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in polls.

After repeatedly questioning the credibility of Brazil's respected electronic voting system, Bolsonaro has mooted the possibility of refusing to handover power if he were to lose.

On July 19, three separate associations of current Federal Police officers released a statement rejecting Bolsonaro's claims, saying they had "total confidence" in Brazil's electoral system and its electronic ballots.

The current federal police source who passed Reuters the former detectives' statement was indignant.

"I'm embarrassed," said the source, who was unauthorized to speak publicly. "They're the federal police crew that were there during the dictatorship. They never respected fundamental rights, and used violence and torture against minorities and anyone who thought differently to them."

"They never arrested anyone in their lives, just the poor and the black," the officer added. (Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Angus MacSwan)