Brazil’s former president, Jair Bolsonaro is being investigated by Federal police for allegedly harassing a humpback whale during a public holiday. According to the Guardian, he faces allegations of environmental misconduct during a jetski excursion near Sao Sebastiao on Brazil’s south-eastern coastline. Notably, Mr Bolsonaro was seen in a video piloting a Jet Ski to a humpback whale in June this year, the report said. He was filmed within 15 meters of the whale, using a mobile phone to capture the distressed behaviours of the whale.
”The man, thought to be Bolsonaro, was shooting a video with a mobile phone as the whale performed aerial behaviours suggesting distress or discomfort,” the news website iG reported.
Brazilian legislation outlaws ”the deliberate harassment of any species of cetacean” such as dolphins or humpback whales. Rules also mandate that vessels with their engines running must not come within 100 metres of such animals. Ibama, the environmental agency that enforces these rules, further forbids people from chasing or invading the space of pods of dolphins or whales and disturbing them with music or excessive noise. The penalty for the crime varies from two to five years in prison, in addition to a fine.
Meanwhile, the ex-president dismissed the inquiry as another example of political persecution from Brazilian politicians and environmentalists. ”Every day they accuse me of some kind of mischief. Yesterday it was hounding whales,” Mr Bolsonaro told supporters.
This investigation adds to a series of probes into his suspected crimes, ranging from environmental offenses to political misconduct. In the past too, he was fined for illegal fishing within a marine reserve. He is currently facing multiple investigations, including accusations of plotting a coup, misappropriation of expensive jewels, and falsifying COVID-19 vaccination records.
Mr Bolsonaro, a longtime skeptic of environmental concerns, has often been called ”Captain Chainsaw”, over the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Deforestation in Brazil surged during his four-year rule and increased by 15 percent in 2022 compared to 2021.
Also nicknamed the ”Tropical Trump,” his presidency was tumultuous: at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that claimed more than 700,000 lives in Brazil, he mocked face masks, social distancing, and vaccines, warning the jab could ”turn you into an alligator.”
A few months back, Brazil’s federal electoral court (TSE) barred him from public office until 2030 for his conduct during last year’s fraught election.
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