Lula prison sentence triggers protests

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Lula prison sentence triggers protests

Protesters both for and against the prison sentence handed to Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have taken to the streets of Sao Paulo as military police were deployed.

A protest in downtown Paulista Avenue calling for the resignation of Brazilian President Michel Temer - under fire over corruption scandals - ended up being overtaken by Lula supporters.

After Lula, 71, was handed a nine-and-a-half year prison sentence on Wednesday by federal judge Sergio Moro on corruption and money laundering charges, two more demonstrations started on Paulista Avenue, the financial heart of the country.

Lula's sympathisers gathered outside the Sao Paulo Museum of Art to show their support for the former president and former labour union leader.

Less than a block away in front of the Federation of Industries of the State of Sao Paulo, the country's most influential employers' organisation, anti-Lula protesters gathered to celebrate his conviction, calling for his immediate arrest.

Sao Paulo military police positioned blockades to prevent clashes between the opposing demonstrations as they continued over four hours.

Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011, was found guilty in connection with the massive corruption scandal centred on state oil company Petrobras.