Police detained Brazil’s powerful ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for questioning and searched his home Friday as part of a probe into a huge corruption scheme at state oil company Petrobras.
Agents searched Lula’s house in Sao Paulo, the offices of the Lula Institute, and houses of family members and associates, said Jose Chrispiniano, a spokesman for Lula and his institute.
As agents, backed by armed officers in camouflage, went through Lula’s house, supporters and opponents demonstrated in the street, shouting and scuffling, AFP journalists said.
Prosecutors said Lula was targeted as part of the Operation Car Wash investigation into an embezzlement and bribery conspiracy centered on Petrobras. The corruption scandal, which has already seen a Who’s Who of Brazilian politicians and businessmen face charges, is believed to be the biggest ever in Brazil.
Officials said about 200 federal police and 30 auditors fanned out across three states, serving 33 warrants for search and seizure and 11 for detention for questioning.
The operations in Rio de Janeiro, Bahia and Sao Paulo states involved probes into “corruption and money laundering, among other crimes practiced by various people in the context of the Petrobras criminal scheme.”
Lula, who was president from 2003-2010, remains one of Brazil’s most influential figures and his fate is closely linked to that of his successor, President Dilma Rousseff, and the future of the ruling Workers’ Party.