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25 January 2018 | | | | | |

Tribunal increases prison sentence against Lula da Silva in Brazil: approximately 30 political prisoners in Porto Alegre for demonstrating in support of former president

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26 young activists from several Brazilian social movements and two journalists were arrested on Wednesday night in Porto Alegre, Brazil, while they were demonstrating hours after former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva faced trial in that city.

The activists arrested are members of Levante Popular da Juventude, the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) and the Small Farmers Movement (MPA), and the journalists are part of the Mídia Ninja communication collective, which follows the agenda of the popular movements of the country.

Real World Radio was present this Thursday morning outside the police station where 13 young women were still being held, who were then taken to prison while waiting for the processing of the judicial case. Three men suffered the same fate. The other activists arrested were released.

On Wednesday afternoon, the TRF4 Tribunal upheld Lula da Silva´s conviction. The tribunal disregarded the arguments of the defense team which aimed at declaring the process void. The three judges hearing the case voted against the defense´s petition. In July, 2017, Lula was convicted by Judge Sergio Moro to nine and a half years in prison, on charges of passive corruption and money laundering, in the framework of the “Lava Jato” case. But yesterday, the judges increased his prison sentence to 12 years and one month, without the right to house arrest. Nevertheless, Lula´s lawyers still have opportunities to submit new arguments to their defense.

Levante Popular da Juventude issued on Thursday a statement denouncing that the activists were arrested on the street and taken to the home of one of the members of Levante Popular. The house was turned upside down by the police officers, without any kind of order to do this.

“The process was conducted in an arbitrary way by the Porto Alegre Police Brigade. Unidentified police officers went through the belongings of the activists without them being present. They also allowed RBS, subsidiary of Rede Globo, to record the activists inside the bus and the police station, even before the defense attorneys arrived”, reads the press release.

“The criminalization of the left-wing and the struggle is a fundamental part of the coup against democracy in our country. In addition to the elimination of rights historically achieved and the dismantling of the Brazilian state, they want to make us afraid of demonstrating. They want to take our dreams away from us, our ability to be outraged, and they mainly want the youth to not understand that the organized people alone have the power to transform reality”, reads the statement.

Levante Popular da Juventude concludes that the struggle of the people to decide the future of the country is just beginning and demands the immediate release of the activists arrested.

Outside the police station, Real World Radio interviewed lawyer Ernani Rossetto, of the National Network of Popular Lawyers (RENAP), who is following the case. “We were surprised with some of the positions of the Military Brigade and also of the Judicial Branch. One of them is the consideration of “criminal association” and the arrest of people holding banners for example at the time of the supposed fire, and even individuals who were passing by”, he said. “We question the criteria behind the arrests which could entail a political reason to arrest people that were exercising their right to demonstrate”, Rossetto added.

Meanwhile, the member of Mídia Ninja, Felipe Altenfelder, said to Real World Radio that the detention of the activists was “completely arbitrary”, and filled with irregularities. He highlighted that the activists were kept in the street for one hour, with their hands against the wall, which made it difficult for lawyers to have access to them and that there was a joint action between the military brigade and communication media such as RBS. Felipe considers the arrests are a political action.

Imagen: Mídia Ninja

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