Squat­ters seize jailed Lula’s home

Bangkok Post - - WORLD -

GUARUJA: About 100 mem­bers of a Brazil­ian home­less move­ment protest­ing the jail­ing of for­mer Pres­i­dent Luis Ina­cio Lula da Silva on Mon­day briefly took over the beach­front apart­ment at the cen­ter of the cor­rup­tion case against him.

Af­ter a deal with lo­cal po­lice, they left af­ter al­most four hours in the build­ing.

Da Silva was sen­tenced to 12 years and one month in prison af­ter be­ing con­victed of ac­cept­ing the apart­ment in the city of Guaruja as a kick­back from con­struc­tion com­pany OAS in re­turn for his in­flu­ence. Da Silva, who de­nied the charge, was jailed on April 7.

Home­less move­ment or­gan­iser Guil­herme Bou­los, an ally of the for­mer pres­i­dent, said da Silva’s ar­rest was a ju­di­cial farce.

“If this apart­ment in­deed be­longs to Lula, that means we are in­vited to stay, we have his per­mis­sion. If it doesn’t, judges have to ex­plain why they ar­rested him,” Mr Bou­los said in so­cial me­dia posts.

“This is the first time our home­less move­ment oc­cu­pies some­where with an ex­press au­tho­ri­sa­tion of the owner,” Mr Bou­los said jok­ingly.

Still, the group left af­ter its deal with po­lice.

Mau­ricy Ma­gario, a doc­tor and neigh­bour of the apart­ment at­trib­uted to da Silva, said he felt en­dan­gered by the oc­cu­pa­tion.

“This is about our pri­vacy and our se­cu­rity. We didn’t get along with them be­cause they want re­spect, but they don’t re­spect us,” he said.

Da Silva is ap­peal­ing his con­vic­tion, which he says is po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. He in­sists he did noth­ing wrong in that case or in seven other cor­rup­tion cases pend­ing against him.

The 297-square-me­tre apart­ment in the So­laris com­plex faces As­turias Beach, one of the busiest in the de­cay­ing city of Guaruja. Fa­mous Brazil­ians still spend time in the city, in­clud­ing foot­ball su­per­stars Pele and Ney­mar, but their es­tates lie far from the place that has be­come known as “Lula’s build­ing”.

Da Silva and his lawyers say the for­mer pres­i­dent never owned or lived in the apart­ment and only vis­ited it once to con­sider a busi­ness deal.

Lawyer Cristiano Zanin says his client bought rights in 2005 to buy an 80-sq-m unit from a co­op­er­a­tive named Ban­coop. Four years later, when da Silva was still pres­i­dent, Ban­coop went bank­rupt and was bought by OAS.

Judge Ser­gio Moro, hailed by many Brazil­ians as an anti-cor­rup­tion hero, ruled da Silva should be sent to jail for ac­cept­ing a much big­ger and ren­o­vated apart­ment at the So­laris.

Later on Mon­day four left-lean­ing po­lit­i­cal par­ties in­sisted da Silva should be re­leased.

“The hasty and un­jus­ti­fied in­car­cer­a­tion of for­mer Pres­i­dent Lula, with­out a sin­gle solid piece of ev­i­dence, wors­ens the dan­ger­ous and grow­ing at­mos­phere of po­lit­i­cal ha­tred and in­sta­bil­ity that took over Brazil,” they said.

AP

A bird’s-eye view of the beach­front apart­ment that sits at the cen­tre of the cor­rup­tion case against for­mer Brazil­ian pres­i­dent Luis Ina­cio Lula da Silva in Guaruja, Brazil on April 16.

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