Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Deadline for Lula to turn himself into police expires

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Brazil's Lula will not turn himself to police - party source
Deanna Wagner | 07 April, 2018, 00:38

Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will not turn himself in to serve a 12-year prison sentence for corruption, a party source with knowledge of his thinking said on Friday, adding he will wait until a higher court rules on a last-minute appeal.

The petition asked for Lula to be given time to make a purely technical appeal at a lower appeals court, something that would give him probably until Tuesday without fear of arrest.

Judge Sergio Moro ordered Lula to turn himself in by 5 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Friday to start serving a 12-year prison sentence after he lost an appeal of his bribery conviction.

According to reports, he is holed up with a crowd of fervent supporters at the metalworkers' union building in his hometown Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo. Lula is surrounded supporters from the Worker Party, trade unions and other social movements.

Hundreds of die-hard supporters in red shirts thronged outside the union offices late into the night on Thursday, cheering spirited defenses of Lula, who sought refuge inside.

Lula led Brazil in two four-year terms as president, from 2003 to January 2011, years of prosperity that were fueled by a commodity boom.

"Lula will not be a prisoner in 2018, he'll be president and help the people once more", Swiecik, 31, said.

He left office with sky-high approval of 83 percent and was called "the most popular politician on Earth" by former U.S. President Barack Obama.

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However, there were celebrations on the right and among prosecutors supporting the epic "Car Wash" probe, which has revealed high-level corruption throughout Brazilian business and politics over the last four years.

The order came right after the Supreme Federal Tribunal voted 6-5 to deny Lula's request to stay out of prison during the rest of his appeal process.

Federal judge Sergio Moro, seen by many in Brazil as a crusader against endemic graft, ordered da Silva to turn present himself to police by Friday afternoon.

To them, Lula epitomizes Brazil's corruption-riddled elite.

The ruling likely ends his political career and blows October's election wide open, leaving Brazil's left without an obvious candidate to regain power from the unpopular President Michel Temer. Under Brazilian electoral law, a candidate is forbidden from running for office for eight years after being found guilty of a crime.

The court's decision was met by protests both in favour of and against Lula, representing a deep divide within the country.

"We consider this to be a political imprisonment, an imprisonment that will expose Brazil before the world", said Gleisi Hoffmann, chairwoman of the Workers' Party.

"He (Lula) can show up here by private plane or if he shows up in Sao Paulo, he can travel aboard the Federal Police aircraft", which is "ready" to transfer him, said Jorge Chastalo Filho, head of the custody and escort team of the Federal Police of Curitiba to a group of reporters. "Plan A, B and C is Lula, because he is innocent".