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HUNDREDS of supporters of Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are camping outside his prison, saying they will not be moved until he is released.
Crowds did not disperse after being attacked by riot police at the weekend as they gathered to show support for Lula while he was transferred to the jail.
His supporters say imprisoning him before the appeals process against his corruption conviction — itself based on the testimony of a single convict — is unconstitutional and they are calling for an international campaign for his release.
France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Melenchon tweeted his support for the ex-president, writing: "Lula has never become corrupt. That's a lie. It's a judicial coup. He was 15 points ahead in the polls."
Landless Workers’ Movement co-ordinator Roberto Baggio said that, following "cowardly" police attacks, the protesters would remain outside the prison perimeter and predicted their numbers would grow.
"We are expecting people from southern Brazil to arrive here today. We are not leaving until Lula is freed."
Gleisi Hoffmann, leader of Lula's Workers Party, which governed Brazil until the country's last elected president Dilma Rousseff was removed by senators in 2016, told the demonstrators that it was now their duty to be "his voice, that we be a million Lulas."
The party is calling for a national mobilisation in Lula's defence tomorrow and protests at Brazilian embassies around the world. It plans to turn May Day into a nationwide demonstration calling for his release.
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