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Brazil Petrobras scandal: Ex-president Lula says he does not fear prosecutors

Prosecutors said Lula was targeted as part of an investigation into a vast embezzlement and bribery conspiracy centered on Petrobras, the national oil company. 



Sao Paulo: Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacted Friday with defiance to his brief detention for questioning in a corruption probe, saying he feared no one.

"If they wanted to hear from me, they only had to call and I would have gone, because I owe nothing to anyone and fear nothing," he said at a news conference in his first remarks since being released.

Lula, 70, said the decision to detain him at his house and take him to a police station for questioning in the Petrobras corruption network probe showed "lack of democratic respect" and "judicial authoritarianism."

"It would have been so simple to invite me to testify. (The judge) did not need to send police to my house and the house of my sons," he said.

"They preferred to show power, arrogance, to make a show."

Prosecutors said Lula was targeted as part of an investigation into a vast embezzlement and bribery conspiracy centered on Petrobras, the national oil company.

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.

Lula was not arrested, but was held for questioning over alleged "favors" received from corrupt construction companies implicated in the Petrobras kickbacks scheme, prosecutors said.

In particular focus is a luxury seaside apartment and a country house that prosecutors say they believe were given to him as bribes. Lula says the properties do not belong to him.

The police interview, held at an airport near his home, lasted more than three hours, the Globo news site reported.

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.

From Zee News

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