Brazil Braces for Lula Appeal Ruling, Elite Snipers Called InBy
Public buildings, streets, immediate air space blocked off
Court to rule on ex-President Lula’s sentencing on Jan. 24
Elite snipers on rooftops and naval patrol ships are being deployed to ensure security during former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s trial at an appeals court in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.
Starting at midday local time on Tuesday, all public buildings near the court will be shuttered and local streets blocked off to traffic ahead of Wednesday’s ruling. The airspace immediately above the courthouse will be restricted, as police helicopters patrol the area.
Unlike in the U.S. and many other countries, the sight of sharpshooters during high-profile public events in Brazil is rare.
The political future of Brazil’s best-known politician will depend largely on the decision of three judges. The appellate court will decide whether to uphold or suspend a nine-and-a-half-year prison sentence for graft that could bar Lula from running in October general elections. He is the clear front-runner in opinion polls.
Thousands of protesters both for and against Lula are descending on the southern city and investors are closely watching the fate of the former union leader who has vowed to reverse market-friendly reforms such as a deregulation of the labor market. The 72 year-old former factory worker is expected to address supporters at a rally in Porto Alegre later on Tuesday.
Lula’s temporary detention in 2016 led to isolated clashes between supporters and detractors in Sao Paulo, while anti-government demonstrations last year led to scorched and ransacked ministries in the capital Brasilia.