Will Justin Bieber be arrested in Brazil for unwittingly spray painting graffiti illegally on a then-abandoned Rio hotel wall four years ago? Media headlines would have you believe so. But is that really the case?
The “Sorry” singer is set to play Rio De Janeiro’s Apoteose stadium on Wednesday, March 29, and two further concerts over the following weekend in Sao Paulo when his “Purpose World Tour” touches down.
The alarmist headlines are a result of Rio prosecutors reopening a 2013 vandalism case in which Bieber was charged after he and some pals spray painted graffiti on a building they thought was abandoned. At the time, the then 19-year-old superstar was in the city for his “Believe Tour.”
Back in 2013, it was reported that after Justin obtained permission from authorities to legally graffiti the wall of an abandoned building in Rio, he was advised that the area wasn’t safe so he chose to graffiti somewhere else.
Unfortunately, that “somewhere else” turned out to be the once abandoned Hotel Nacional. The then teen singer was subsequently charged with a crime of vandalism against the city order and cultural heritage in November 2013 because the Hotel Nacional is protected as a heritage site by the Brazilian government.
According to police, officers tried to find the heartthrob after he left the wall at around 6 a.m. and went to the private mansion he rented during his trip to Brazil, but the Biebs had already left.
In November 2013, it was decided by the Brazilian court that Justin wouldn’t be arrested but would pay a fine. In 2015, it was suspended so the statute of limitations didn’t run out, which obviously left a window open for it to be reopened when he returned.
— Daily Mail Celebrity (@DailyMailCeleb) March 28, 2017
Fast forward to Rio’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) recently stating it intends to officially notify Bieber of the criminal vandalism charges when he arrives in Brazil.
“With the news that the singer will be returning to Brazil, the Prosecution Service requested that the court issue a writ of summons in his name. The request is so that the accused is made aware of the charges,” the PPS wrote.
Mail Online reports judge Rudi Lowenkron has ordered a court clerk to wait for Justin when he arrives at the city’s international airport on Wednesday, where he will be asked to sign a document confirming he is aware of the case.
What if he refuses to sign? In that event, Lowenkron has reportedly authorized the “use of police force” to make sure Bieber signs the document during his Rio concert at the city’s Apoteose stadium.
According to reports, in addition to hearing the clerk read the charges in English, the Biebs will also be told that he should hire a defense lawyer, as per the court order.
After this due process, Justin is reportedly likely to be questioned by police. It is said the judge will pass a sentence before the pop icon leaves the country again after his final show in Sao Paulo on Sunday.
It’s reported that defacing any building is a crime in Brazil ultimately punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine. Some outlets have speculated that legal authorities often make examples of famous foreigners who break the country’s laws.
For example, swimmer Ryan Lochte was charged with filing a false robbery report after he and three other swim team members said they had been held up at gunpoint during last summer’s Olympic Games.
Notably, after Lochte fled Brazil, fellow swimmer James Feigen was only allowed to leave Brazil after paying a $10,800 fine.
Mail Online cited international law expert Tagory Figueiredo from Figueiredo & Associates, who reportedly said the justice system could decide to “make an example out of him by giving him a jail sentence” then arrest could happen.
Figueiredo elaborated, “But if he tries to evade being found by court officials, or if the judge understands that he will try to leave the country again without being notified of the case, then the judge could issue an arrest warrant for him.”
“What is for sure, Bieber will have to tread very carefully this time in Brazil,” he added.
So, the big question is, will Justin Bieber actually be arrested in Brazil when he arrives in Rio over a vandalism charge stemming back to a 2013 case, in which he thought the building in question was abandoned?
Based on the fact that the 2013 court decided fining the Biebs would suffice, it is unlikely the megastar will be arrested unless he refuses to sign the charge document if it is presented for a second time by police, or if he acts bizarrely in some way.
[Featured Image by Mat Hayward/Getty Images]