Student 'poisoner' suspended

July 14, 2000

A Brazilian student has been suspended pending an inquiry after he allegedly tried to poison one of the country's most powerful politicians with salmonella bacteria.

Mario Covas, the governor of Sao Paulo state, who has been suffering from cancer, was due to appear in Santos for a rally of his political party, the social democratic PSDB.

A fourth-year biology student at the Universidade Cat"lica de Santos had planned to throw a thin plastic bag with a liquid concoction containing salmonella bacteria at him. But Mr Covas pulled out of the trip.

The student is said to have told friends about his aborted attempt at poisoning and, it is alleged, some samples of salmonella were discovered in his possession by a lecturer in a science lab.

A lecturer at UniSantos, who would not be named, said: "If real intent is found he will face police charges."

Another lecturer said the student used to be a member of the Partido dos Trabalhadores or Socialist Party but found them too rightwing. "Today he is an anarchist, without any party," said the lecturer.

The student joined in demonstrations against Mr Covas on the day that the governor was supposed to be in Santos, organised by the state union of lecturers).

Mr Covas is an ally and friend of Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who is also a member of the PSDB.

There has been a spate of attacks on PSDB members. Mr Covas has been hit in the face by stones, and one student, Ede Para!zo, got close enough to pelt health minister Jose Serra with eggs.

Students also bombarded President Cardoso with eggs when he visited Pernambuco, in the northeast of Brazil, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Brazil's discovery by the Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral.

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