Brasilia, July 13 (IANS) Protesters both in favour of and against the prison sentence handed to Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took to the streets of Sao Paulo.
A protest in downtown Paulista Avenue on Wednesday calling for the resignation of Brazilian President Michel Temer – under fire over corruption scandals – ended up being overtaken by Lula supporters, reports Efe news.
After Lula, 71, was handed a nine-and-a-half year prison sentence earlier on Wednesday on corruption and money laundering charges, two more demonstrations started on Paulista Avenue, the financial heart of the country.
Lula’s sympathisers gathered outside the Sao Paulo Museum of Art to show their support.
Less than a block away in front of the Federation of Industries of the State of Sao Paulo, the country’s most influential employers’ organization, anti-Lula protesters gathered to celebrate his conviction, calling for his immediate arrest as they waved Brazilian flags and posters praising the sentencing.
The Sao Paulo military police, who did not report on the number of protesters, positioned blockades to prevent clashes between the opposing demonstrations as they continued over four hours.
Lula, who was in power from 2003 to 2011, was found guilty in connection with the massive corruption scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras.
The charges rested on the claim that Lula was given a beachfront duplex apartment near Sao Paulo by OAS, one of the engineering companies implicated in bribing Petrobras executives to secure inflated contracts and diverting some of the extra money to politicians who provided cover for the graft.
The former President denied that he ever owned the apartment, or benefited from property renovations that the prosecution claimed was at his request.