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Judge frees former justice minister arrested for Brasilia riots

FILE PHOTO: Anderson Torres, then Brazil's Minister of Justice and Public Security, walking

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The official in charge of Brasilia's public security when government buildings were stormed by supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro on Jan. 8 was freed on Thursday after almost four months under arrest for his alleged role.

Anderson Torres was Bolsonaro's justice minister and became the city's security chief on Jan. 2 and took off on holiday to the United States four days later. He was arrested on his return.

Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who ordered his arrest to investigate whether his absence had contributed to the uprising, ordered that he be set free, saying police had done their investigations and there was no reason to hold Torres.

The judge ruled that he must wear an electronic anklet, canceled his passports and suspended his right to carry a gun.

Complicating the former justice's legal situation was a draft decree police found in his home when he was arrested that appeared to be part of a plan to provoke a state of emergency to overturn President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's election victory over Bolsonaro. He denied it was part of a military coup attempt.

Bolsonaro supporters have complained that Torres had been illegally held in jail without being charged.

Right-wing lawmaker Rodrigo Valadares called the time he spent under arrest an "extremely arbitrary imprisonment" and said Torres was not responsible for the Jan. 8 riots because he was in the United States at the time.

Torres' defense said he was facing mental health problems while in prison.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by Sandra Maler)