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Bolsonaro announces return to Brazil on Mar 30

BRASILIA: Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro, who left the country for the United States two days before his term ended, will return home on Mar 30, his party and press service announced on Friday (Mar 24).

His entourage said Bolsonaro had handed over to authorities, through his lawyers, some expensive jewels given to him by the government of Saudi Arabia.

The 68-year-old far-right leader has been embroiled in a scandal over the issue and is accused of having brought the jewels into Brazil illegally.

Bolsonaro will arrive on Thursday March 30 at 7:30 am, his Liberal Party (PL) said on social media.

Following his election defeat to leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in October, Bolsonaro left Brazil for Florida on December 30, just two days before the new president was due to be sworn in, when he was supposed to pass on the presidential sash to his successor.

“I will resume a normal life, I will work for the PL, travel around Brazil and take part in politics,” Bolsonaro said in an interview with TV Record broadcast on Thursday.

Bolsonaro denies wrongdoing but has been accused of illegally trying to bring gifts into the country.

The scandal erupted when newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo reported that customs officers intercepted an aide to Bolsonaro’s then-mines and energy minister trying to enter Brazil with a backpack containing diamond jewelry from Swiss luxury firm Chopard after an official trip to Saudi Arabia in October 2021.

It later emerged Bolsonaro had kept a second set of jewels, also from Chopard, that entered Brazil undetected after the same trip.

Travelers entering Brazil with goods worth more than US$1,000 are required to declare them and pay hefty import taxes.

Media reports have placed the value of the jewels, some of which were believed to be a gift for the former president’s wife, at US$3.2 million for the first set, and at least US$75,000 for the second.

“I found out about this story a year later and my wife found out about it through the press,” Bolsonaro told TV Record.

“She has nothing to do with this, the box that was for her is with customs.”

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