Bolsonaro friend gives himself power to oversee extradition requests

santini extradition
José Vicente Santini (left) and President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR

Brazil’s National Justice Secretary José Vicente Santini — a personal friend of President Jair Bolsonaro’s sons and a highly important figure within the Justice Ministry — issued an ordinance giving himself the last word on all extradition requests to other countries. 

On October 26, Mr. Santini sent a memo informing the Department of Asset Recovery and International Legal Cooperation (DRCI) of the change. The Brazilian Report had access to that memo. Just five days prior to the document being sent, the Supreme Court ordered the arrest and extradition from the U.S. of Allan dos Santos, a far-right blogger who is close to Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s third-eldest son.

On Tuesday, the government fired Federal Marshal Sílvia Amélia Fonseca de Oliveira as head of the DRCI. The Brazilian Report understands that the reason for her acrimonious dismissal was her pursuit of Mr. Santos’s extradition — a move going against Mr. Santini’s memo.

A senior staff member at the Justice Ministry told The Brazilian Report that Mr. Santini wants to further extend his control over the International Cooperation department, planning to also grant himself the final say over asset recovery requests and cooperation in money laundering cases. 

Ultimately, the move would eliminate the department’s technical independence, which has been pivotal for its functioning in recent years. Government advisors warned Mr. Santini that such interference in international judicial cooperation would harm Brazil’s reputation in other countries, but their warnings fell on deaf ears.