Brazil's Bolsonaro asks Senate to impeach a Supreme Court justice

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a promotion ceremony for generals of the armed forces, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, August 12, 2021. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

BRASILIA, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro raised the stakes in his battle with the country's Supreme Court on Friday, sending the Senate a request for the impeachment of one of its justices, according to the request seen by Reuters.

Bolsonaro is seeking to impeach Justice Alexandre de Moraes after he opened an investigation into the president for allegedly leaking to the media a secret federal police report of a hacking that backed up his views that Brazil's electronic voting system was vulnerable to fraud.

Moraes has also begun investigating Bolsonaro for his attacks on the Supreme Electoral Court, which has maintained that the electronic system is safe and can be audited.

The president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, told reporters he will look at the request, but said he does not see political or technical grounds to impeach Moraes.

The Supreme Court rejected Bolsonaro's request in a statement that it "does not tolerate a magistrate being accused for his decisions" that must be questioned through the proper appeals process.

Bolsonaro's critics say he is sowing doubts about the voting system so he can question next year's election results if he loses. Polls show former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ahead, though neither have announced they will run.

The president's request to the Senate, which is the only body that can try a top court judge, said some justices were committing abuses and breaking the law by launching investigations without the involvement of state prosecutors.

The Senate is not expected to take up the impeachment request, just as the lower chamber has not advanced any of the dozens of requests to impeach Bolsonaro.

But his case against Moraes will deepen the crisis between the president and the Supreme Court, which Bolsonaro supporters want to see closed down.

Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Editing by Sandra Maler

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