Jair Bolsonaro is being investigated by Brazilian police for allegedly “harassing” a humpback whale while on his jet ski.
The former president, nicknamed “Captain Chainsaw” by critics over his handling of the environment, was spotted filming the creature on his mobile phone from just 15 metres away in June.
The animal was reportedly displaying “behaviours suggesting distress or discomfort” while he did so, according to local media.
It is illegal in Brazil for vessels with their engines running to come within 100 metres of any species of cetacean, which includes whales and dolphins.
Making excessive noise within 300 metres of the animals is also banned.
Bolsonaro dismisses allegations
“Every day they accuse me of some kind of mischief,” Mr Bolsonaro said on Saturday as he dismissed the allegations as another example of alleged political persecution from his opponents.
He proceeded to compare Flavio Dino, the overweight justice minister, to a whale.
The incident allegedly took place off the coast of Sao Sebastiao, a port town 150 miles west of Rio de Janeiro, on June 8.
Pictures Mr Bolsonaro took with members of the public show he was in the town on that day for the Corpus Christi public holiday, which is held 60 days after Easter Sunday.
His supporters are reported to have shared the jet ski footage on social media, inadvertently triggering the police investigation.
Humpbacks regularly appear off the Brazilian coast and Mr Bolsonaro, 68, is not the first politician to get into trouble for “harassing” them.
Wagner Teixeira, a councillor from Sao Sebastiao, was fined £410 in August for “molesting” a humpback when his boat came within 30 metres of it.
Criminal investigations into Bolsonaro
Mr Bolsonaro, a hard-Right former army captain, was already the subject of a range of police probes related to his four years in office from 2019-2022 and prior cases.
In June, he was barred from public office until 2030 by Brazil’s federal electoral court having been convicted of “abuse of power” and “misuse of the media”.
He is currently facing at least five criminal investigations led by the Supreme Court, a police investigation into allegations of forging vaccine records and a congressional probe into the storming of government buildings by his supporters in January.
Mr Bolsonaro, who narrowly lost last year’s presidential election to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has repeatedly denied breaking any laws.
He has dismissed the cases brought against him as a witch hunt engineered by his political opponents.