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  • Former President  Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has arrived at the prison in southern Curitiba, where supporters were beaten back by police.

    Former President  Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has arrived at the prison in southern Curitiba, where supporters were beaten back by police. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 April 2018

Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has arrived at the prison in southern Curitiba, where thousands of supporters were beaten back by federal police.

Chaotic scenes greeted Brazil's leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as he arrived at a prison in Curitiba. Thousands of supporters, who amassed outside the facility, were set upon by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets. 

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According to teleSUR correspondent Andre Vieira, at least 8 people were wounded during the clashes. Four of the injured are said to minors. The security forces reportedly attacked the crowd following the arrival of the aircraft transporting Lula. 

Lula turned up to comply with a federal warrant demanding his arrest to begin serving a 12-year sentence for corruption – a warrant both Lula and his lawyers insist is illegal. 

Shortly before 11:00 p.m. local time, Lula arrived at the police detention center in southern Curitiba where he is to be held in a 15-meter-square cell.

Lula was earlier seen leaving the steelworkers' union building in Sao Paulo in which he has been ensconced since Friday in a convoy of police vehicles. He was then transported to Congonhas Airport, from where he was transported to southern Curitiba.

In a statement released late Saturday, Pablo Villaca, of the People's Committee for the Defense of Lula and Democracy, said: "(Judge Sergio) Moro dreams that the imprisonment of Lula will consecrate him. Instead, the image of Lula being carried in the arms of the people is circulating across the entire planet.

"This is the way that mediocre people are. They see themselves as giants while they are crushed by those who have really achieved greatness."

In an interview with teleSUR late Saturday, Joao Pedro Stedile, co-founder of Brazil's Rural Landless Movement (MST), called for people to protest outside Brazilian embassies around the world on April 11. He then vowed to unite Brazil's social and political movements under the banner 'Red April.'

Stedile also said protesters would surround the detention center in Curitiba until Lula is released to symbolize what he called the imprisonment of the Brazilian people. 

The arrest warrant was issued by Federal Judge Sergei Moro on Thursday after Supreme Court Justices voted 6-5 to order Lula to commence his sentence in connection with the sprawling Operation Car Wash corruption investigation, which has so far ensnared multiple leaders in Latin America.

Given a deadline of Friday 5 p.m. to present himself to police authorities in Curitiba, Lula defied the order and instead hunkered down among thousands of supporters at the same steelworkers' union in an industrial suburb of Sao Paulo where he first began his career as a labor leader.

There, he was surrounded Friday and Saturday by thousands of supporters and members of his Workers' Party wearing red shirts and waving red flags. Many bore aloft the image of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr.

Police officers, who tried to enter the premises to arrest him on Saturday but were pushed back by the huge crowd of supporters, later said they would refrain from detaining Lula overnight while negotiations to end the stand-off continued.

Lula reported to police after taking part in a mass Saturday morning at the union headquarters to commemorate the birthday of his late wife Marisa Leticia, according to an aide to Congressman Valmir Prascidelli, who represents Sao Paulo for the Workers' Party.

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