A day after being questioned by police investigating a major corruption case involving an oil company run by the state, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva saw hundreds gather outside his home Saturday, cheering in support, the Associated Press reported. One of those in the crowd was current President Dilma Rousseff, who met the former president at his home in a gesture of solidarity.
Police took Silva from his home Friday and questioned him for hours before releasing him. Police said Silva received kickbacks from the Petrobras oil company, and they had the evidence suggesting such. They said the kickbacks took the form of money and expensive real estate, Reuters reported.
Silva, who ran the country from 2003 to 2010, is one of Brazil’s most powerful figures, a man made into a hero for his anti-poverty programs. The investigation could threaten to undue that image and also bring Rousseff closer to the investigation, which could be bad news for her considering she is also facing calls for impeachment for breaking budgetary rules to mask a deficit.
However, his supporters still gathered in droves. A banner could be seen Saturday that said he was the most honest man in Brazil.
“If you mess with him, you mess with me,” his supporters could be heard shouting.
Not all, however, were supportive of the former president. The AP quoted one newspaper as saying Silva always knew of the corruption scheme and he was a “hiding behind the mask of a hero for ethics in politics.”
“Lula, thief. Enough of your corruption,” could be seen written on a wall on the nonprofit Instituto Lula.
— CFR (@CFR_org) March 4, 2016
Silva has denied any wrongdoing, and a spokesman said Thursday he has always acted within the realm of the law, the Wall Street Journal reported. The investigation has led to the arrest of a political consultant, João Santana, who helped catapult Rousseff to the presidency.