Brazil federal police accuse Bolsonaro of COVID-linked scaremongering

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FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Bolsonaro leads a motorcade rally, in Brasilia

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's federal police on Wednesday accused President Jair Bolsonaro of discouraging mask use during the pandemic and falsely suggesting that people who got vaccinated against COVID-19 ran the risk of contracting AIDS.

In a document sent to Brazil's Supreme Court, a police delegate said Bolsonaro's effort to discourage compliance with pandemic-linked health measures amounted to a crime, while his effort to link AIDS with vaccination amounted to a misdemeanor.

The police asked Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who is in charge of the probe, to authorize the police to charge Bolsonaro and others involved in the case.

In a social media livestream last October, the far-right president said, without presenting any evidence, that UK government reports had shown that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 had developed AIDS.

Bolsonaro, who has declined to take the vaccine, was temporarily suspended from both Facebook and YouTube after the comments.

The police said additional steps were needed to conclude the investigations, including hearing from Bolsonaro.

The solicitor general's office, which typically provides legal representation for the president, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Leslie Adler)