By Mariana T Noviello
Photo: (Facebook Guilherme Boulos) MTST member on the rooftop of the beachfront apartment attributed to Lula
On 16th April, approximately 50 members of the MTST – The Homeless Workers’ Movement – decided to occupy the three-floor apartment attributed to Lula.
“It was the first time that the MTST occupied a property with the owners’ endorsement”, said Guilherme Boulos, the movement’s leader, sarcastically.
Lula had stated several times that if the apartment was his, then the housing movement should occupy it.
The group’s action was always meant to be symbolic.
They wanted to highlight, in a very concrete way, some of the problems with Judge Moro’s decision.
They claimed that “if the apartment belongs to Lula, there is no problem, we can stay. If the apartment does not belong to Lula, then why is he in prison?”
Their stay was short-lived, the police arrived rather quickly and threatened protesters with arrest.
Removal orders, of course, did not come from the former president.
Legally, the flat belongs to OAS, the infrastructure company involved in the Petrobras corruption scandal.
Lula has never owned the apartment, never had the deeds or even spent a single night in the building. He only visited the apartment twice*.
The apartment is meant to have been ‘attributed’ to Lula for ‘undetermined’ services rendered by him to the Company in return for the Petrobras contracts – even though no specific links were ever established between these contracts and Lula.
Indeed, BBC Brasil reported that Moro, in a recent seminar at Harvard University, likened ‘Lula’s action’ to that of Don Corleone in ‘the Godfather’: Lula, allegedly, granted a favour and OAS was indebted ‘to retribute later’.
Interestingly, one of the things that came out of the MTST short occupation were videos and photos of the inside of the triplex.
Part of the case against Lula rested on the fact that OAS apparently refurbished the flat to the tune of R$1.2 million (approximately £250,000) for the use of Lula’s family.
According to the Brazilian press, refurbishments included a fully-fitted kitchen and a lift, linking all three floors.
Internal images of the apartment taken my MTST members can be found in the Revista Forum site.
Brazilian site R7 had even published images (which were later deleted) of what the interior was meant to look like.
During the hearings, Lula’s lawyers requested a visit to the apartment, which the courts refused.
Many now wonder whether the defense was denied the visit because refurishments were not as ostentatious as they were expected to be.
The MTST showed that the apartment was simple inside and that claims of the million Brazilian reals spent on the refurbishment were widely off the mark.
The ‘Master Criminal’, as the Public Prosecutor Dallagnol described Lula, received as his part in a corruption scheme, involving over a 100 people and hundreds of millions of dollars, a second-rate apartment on a second-rate beach resort…
On 18th April, the appeal court in Porto Alegre unanimously rejected all final questionings made by Lula’s defence without analysing their merit.
The Housing movement’s action provided us with the opportunity to reveal the prosecutors’ and the court’s ‘gymnastics’ in their attempt to find a crime to ascribe to former President Lula.
Unfortunately, it also casts further doubts on the credibility of the Brazilian Justice system.
*For further analysis of Moro’s decision see “Comments on a Notorious Verdict: the Trial of Lula“