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Brazilians protest bill they say weakened anti-corruption probe

By
Andrew V. Pestano
People with posters saying The people against corruption, the power comes from the people, and Deputies, Senators, we are watching all of you gathered at the Explanada de los Ministerios, in front of the Brazilian Congress, to protest against the corruption in Brasilia, Brazil, on Sunday. Protest organizers said they expected about 135,000 people to participate in the nationwide anti-corruption protest. Photo by Joedson Alvez/European Pressphoto Agency
People with posters saying "The people against corruption," "the power comes from the people," and "Deputies, Senators, we are watching all of you" gathered at the Explanada de los Ministerios, in front of the Brazilian Congress, to protest against the corruption in Brasilia, Brazil, on Sunday. Protest organizers said they expected about 135,000 people to participate in the nationwide anti-corruption protest. Photo by Joedson Alvez/European Pressphoto Agency

BRASILIA, Brazil, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Thousands of Brazilians marched nationwide to reject a lower house vote which they say weakened an anti-corruption bill related to the Petrobras investigation.

The largest demonstrations on Sunday were held in Sao Paulo and along Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach.

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Brazil's Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday voted to pass an anti-corruption bill that included amendments that would harshly punish judges and prosecutors who abuse their powers. Protesters argued the bill intimidates investigators because it could discourage prosecutors from following cases out of fear of retribution.

Politicians who themselves are being investigated in the Operation Car Wash investigation voted to pass the bill with the controversial amendments.

Protesters held signs that said "Corrupt Congress" during demonstrations. Two giant dolls of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and of Federal Senate President Renan Calheiros, both accused of corruption, were inflated and paraded in Sao Paulo.

Protest organizers said they expected about 135,000 people to participate.

Roberto Requião, a senator from Brazil's Roraima state also accused of corruption, criticized the protesters -- calling them "manipulated mind-pieces."

Last week, Brazilian President Michel Temer said he would block legislation granting amnesty for politicians who received illegal campaign contributions -- which was an amendment in the bill.

Dozens of Brazilian business leaders and politicians have been indicted for corruption, money laundering and racketeering over the scandal in Petrobras, a semi-public oil and gas company. Politicians are accused of accepting bribes -- either personal bribes or bribes to distributed to their political party -- in exchange for lucrative government contracts.

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