A protester in Brazil disrupted a congressional hearing on Thursday by releasing five rodents as an official from the governing party arrived to answer questions about corruption at the state-run oil company, Petrobras.
Video recorded by people at the hearing showed the rodents scurrying in front of the press pack in Brazil’s lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, just after the arrival of João Vaccari Neto, the treasurer of President Dilma Rousseff’s Workers Party.
Before lawmakers could question Mr. Vaccari, who was charged last month with trying to disguise millions of dollars in bribes as campaign contributions, they had to wait for the five rodents to be captured and the man blamed for smuggling them into the hearing to be removed by security personnel.
In case anyone missed the symbolism, Marco Feliciano, a conservative member of Congress, told readers of his Twitter feed that a rat was a euphemism for a corrupt person.
Although the rodents were widely described as rats in initial reports, an expert consulted by Brazil’s TV Globo identified them as two hamsters and three gerbils.
A Globo live blog on the hearing featured a video replay of the rodents gamely trying to evade capture and updates throughout the day on their condition and on the fate of the protester, identified as a congressional staff member, who was immediately dismissed.
When the hearing finally got underway, Mr. Vaccari maintained his innocence, telling Mr. Feliciano that testimony implicating him was not truthful.