Lula supporters block highways across Brazil

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Rio de Janeiro, April 7 (IANS) Supporters of former Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacted to the news that he will be jailed by blocking off highways in at least 13 of Brazil’s 27 states.

Citing Movement of the Landless Workers, Xinhua reported that at least 85 highways across the country had been cut off on Friday by protesters furious at an arrest warrant against Lula.

Federal judge Sergio Moro, who oversaw Brazil’s sprawling corruption investigation “Operation Car Wash,” on Thursday issued the arrest warrant for Lula and ordered the former president to turn himself in by 5 p.m. (Brazilian time) on Friday to begin a 12 year and one month prison sentence for passive corruption and money laundering.

It was reported that Lula ignored the deadline to surrender and remained inside the headquarters of the Metal Workers’ Union in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, with the building surrounded by thousands of supporters.

Rui Falcao, who has served as the president of Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT), told reporters on Friday at the union headquarters that Lula would not surrender to police.

Also on Friday, Lula’s defence team filed an injunction on the United Nations Human Rights Committee to prevent the arrest of the former president, local news site G1 said.

This week, the Supreme Court denied a habeas corpus motion by Lula’s lawyers, meaning he could be arrested despite not having exhausted all possible appeals.

However, lawyer Cristiano Zanin said the deadline for appeals in the Federal Court of Sao Paulo, which convicted Lula for a second time, had not expired yet, making Moro’s order illegal.

In addition, that the Supreme Court voted to deny the habeas corpus by such a narrow margin of six votes against five “demonstrates the necessity of an independent court to examine whether the principle of presumption of innocence was violated in Lula’s case, and also the examine the allegations about Judge Sergio Moro’s and the Supreme Court’s partiality,” Zanin told the press.

Lula is accused of accepting a luxury beachfront apartment from construction firm OAS in exchange for lucrative contracts with state oil giant Petrobras.

Lula denies the accusation. His lawyers claim he was convicted without evidence and the apartment is registered as belonging to the firm.

–IANS

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