“Politically motivated argument” between backer of Bolsonaro and Lula supporter on a farm in Mato Grosso state ends with latter being struck 15 times with an axe, police say.
A supporter of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has hacked a supporter of election rival Lula da Silva to death with an axe in an argument about politics in a rural area of Brazil.
The victim, identified as Benedito Cardoso dos Santos, was 42 years old and had been arguing with the alleged perpetrator, a 24-year-old Rafael Silva de Oliveira, ahead of October 2 elections which will see former president Lula challenge Bolsonaro, police said on Friday.
The killing occurred on Wednesday night on a farm in Confresa, a municipality of some 30,000 people in the central-western state of Mato Grosso.
Politically motivated argument
Victor Donizete de Oliveira Pereira, of the civil police in Confresa, said that both men were alone on the property when a “politically motivated argument” started.
“The victim was defending Lula and the perpetrator said he was defending Bolsonaro,” he added in a statement Thursday.
According to the suspect’s account, he alleged that dos Santos attacked him first and tried to stab him but he took the knife from him, chased him and then assaulted him with it.
With Cardoso on the ground, the alleged murderer took an axe and struck him a total of 15 times.
He then tried to hide the weapons and escape, but was arrested after going to the hospital to seek medical attention, according to Oliveira Pereira.
Speaking with reporters in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, Lula commented on the stabbing, saying there was a “climate of hatred in the electoral process which is completely abnormal.”
Lula also suggested law enforcement should investigate whether such incidents “had been ordered, or guided, or if it is a political strategy.”
In a statement, Juanita Goebertus Estrada, the director of the Americas for Human Rights Watch, said “all candidates should energetically condemn” the killing of dos Santos.
The president’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In July, a similar incident occurred when a local official from Lula’s opposition Workers’ Party was shot dead by a federal prison guard shouting support for Bolsonaro.
On Friday morning, a Bolsonaro supporter was left with a head wound and said he had been assaulted by supporters of the Workers Party in Rio de Janeiro state.
Bolsonaro, who has long railed against Lula and his leftist allies, has floated the idea of not accepting any election loss, citing unfounded claims of election fraud and problems with Brazil’s widely respected electronic voting system.
The killing comes as Brazil is experiencing its most polarised election campaign in decades.
As tensions rise, police have upped security measures at campaign events.
Both Bolsonaro and Lula have appeared at rallies wearing bulletproof vests and have avoided close contact with supporters.
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Source: TRTWorld and agencies