Judge absolves Bolsonaro attacker because of mental illness

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian judge on Friday absolved the man who stabbed then-presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro in his torso last year, citing his mental illness and ordering him held indefinitely in a prison mental facility.

Adélio Bispo de Oliveira has been in police custody since Sept. 6 when he was accused of stabbing Bolsonaro while he was campaigning in the streets of Juiz de Fora, a city 115 miles (186 kilometers) north of Rio de Janeiro. The blade pierced the candidate’s intestine and put his life in danger. The attacker was beaten badly by Bolsonaro supporters after the stabbing.

Police said Bispo confessed to the attack and Bolsonaro went on to win the presidential election.

On Friday, judge Bruno Savino ruled that Bispo’s preventive detention should be converted into an indefinite internment in a mental facility within the federal prison system.

“The hospitalization will last for an indefinite period until medical experts have proven that he is no longer dangerous,” Savino said in a statement from the federal justice system in Minas Gerais state.

The judge had already declared the attacker could not be jailed because he was mentally ill on May 27, so the ruling had been expected.

Bolsonaro said he will appeal the decision.

“Now, if Adélio wanted to say who paid him to try to kill me, it would have no legal value because he is crazy,” the far-right president told O Globo newspaper. “They tried to assassinate me. I believe I know who it was, but I cannot say because I do not want to prejudge anyone.”

The judge ruled that Bispo must complete his hospitalization within the federal prison system to minimize the risk of an escape and another attack. He said that during his examination he said he intended to attack Bolsonaro again as well as former President Michel Temer.

At the moment of the attack, Bolsonaro was on the shoulders of a supporter, looking out at the crowd and giving a thumbs up with one hand. He was already leading polls with his pro-gun and anti-corruption agenda, while drawing widespread criticism for several racist and homophobic comments.