Friday, 17 August, 2018

Former Brazilian president submits to jail

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Brazil's Lula negotiates ahead of arrest
Faye Gross | 09 April, 2018, 01:06

Hours after the deadline, however, da Silva remained inside the union building in the Sao Paulo suburb of Sao Bernardo do Campo, about 260 miles (417 kilometers) northeast of Curitiba.

The former president was leading in the polls for October's presidential election.

Lula was found guilty previous year of taking a luxury apartment as a bribe from a construction company and is "Car Wash's" biggest scalp - though Lula says the conviction was rigged.

"In Brazil, everything is possible, so he could spend a week in prison and then a judge from the Supreme Federal Court could send him to house arrest, for example", said Oliver Stuenkel, a specialist in global relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo.

In a fiery speech to a crowd of red-shirted supporters outside a steelworkers union headquarters, Brazil's first working-class president had this week insisted on his innocence and called his bribery conviction a political crime, but relented after a almost 24-hour standoff with authorities.

Supporters blocked Lula's first attempt to leave the union building on Saturday afternoon, pushing back against fellow party members trying to open the gate for his auto to leave.

Later, Lula Da Silva underwent a medical examination, mandatory for all inmates who are starting to serve their jail term.

"Their dream is for me not to run, their other dream is to see my picture in prison", Lula da Silva said Saturday.

At last, surrounded by bodyguards, Lula pushed through the seething throng of supporters on foot late Saturday, then got into a police vehicle and was taken to Sao Paulo airport for the flight to Curitiba.

"I will comply with the order and all of you will become Lula", he had told the cheering crowd.

Lula "is not a normal prisoner, he's a political prisoner, the first since the reemergence of democracy" in 1985, she said.

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On January 24, Regional Federal Tribunal 4 confirmed the verdict for Lula da Silva increasing his jail term from nine years and six months to 12 years and one month.

"The intention is not to force compliance at any cost, but rather follow the order the best way possible, with tranquility and without a media show", Luis Antonio Boudens, president of the federal police, said in a statement.

The renovation was bankrolled by a company seeking contracts with the state oil giant Petrobras.

He left office with a sky-high approval rate of 83 percent and was once called "the most popular politician on Earth" by former US President Barack Obama. In August, the country's top electoral court makes final decisions about candidacies.

Curitiba, in the south of Brazil, is the base for the country's enormous "Car Wash" anti-corruption operation in which Lula is the biggest scalp so far.

In an hourlong speech, Lula called himself "an outraged citizen" over his conviction, saying that Brazil's top anti-corruption judge, Sergio Moro, "lied" about him being given the apartment by a big construction firm as a kickback. The judge issued an arrest warrant for him, calling on the former president to surrender to police by 17:00 local time (23:00 Moscow time) on Friday, April 6.

"I am the only human being to be put on trial for an apartment which does not belong to me", he said.

Lula accused the judiciary and Brazil's most powerful media conglomerate of assisting a right-wing coup with the ultimate aim of preventing him from competing in the race. "That way, they will know I am not afraid".

Today, anyone convicted and losing a first appeal - which is Lula's case - has to conduct any further appeals in prison.

Speaking to supporters from a memorial for his late wife, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, he said his arrest is politically motivated and that "history will prove" that he is not guilty.

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