Brazil's Top Court Dismisses Racism Accusation Against Bolsonaro

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s top court rejected on Tuesday accusations that presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro discriminated against communities descended from escaped slaves.

Brazil’s prosecutor general in April filed charges against the far-right congressman for practicing and inciting discrimination by allegedly likening the black descendants to merchandise. The accusations were based on a speech Bolsonaro made in Rio de Janeiro last year, when he characterized them as fat and useless, saying they weren’t even “fit for procreation,” according to court documents.

The accusations were dismissed by 3-2 votes. Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who cast the deciding vote, said he had no doubt about the vulgarity of his remarks, but they didn’t constitute hate speech. “It doesn’t seem to me that he went beyond the limits of his freedom of expression,” he said.

Bolsonaro’s incendiary remarks have made him a lightning rod. He nearly died last week after being stabbed by a man who claimed to feel threatened by his discourse. Many supporters find his willingness to jettison political correctness refreshing, but his outbursts have caused him a series of legal troubles. They has also boosted his rejection levels and cast doubt on his ability to win the nation’s top job in the October election.

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