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Former Brazilian President surrenders to police

09 April, 2018, 00:47 | Author: Lloyd Doyle
  • Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

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.

Lula da Silva had been holed up since Friday in the steelworker's union headquarters surrounded by many hundreds of supporters.

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.

Lula's arrest both thrilled and devastated the country.

His conviction stemmed from a wide-ranging corruption investigation into the state-run oil company Petrobras, dubbed "Operation Car Wash".

Anna Julia Menezes Rodrigues, a specialist in criminal law at Braga Nascimento e Zilio, said da Silva's defiance did not turn him into a fugitive.

"I don't forgive them for giving society the idea that I am a thief", he continued.

"I want to face them and look at them in their eyes", he said of his accusers. "The more days I spend in jail, the more "Lulas" will emerge in this country".

On Saturday, he agreed to be taken into custody, only to find himself blockaded by his own supporters, with a crowd mobbing his auto, shouting "Don't surrender, stay here Lula!"

Lula da Silva, who served as president in 2003-2011, declared that he was ready to become a presidential candidate despite the court's decision.

Moro sentenced Lula to 91/2 years in prison, and an appeals court raised the jail term to 12 years and one month. That conviction was upheld by an appeals court in January.

Lula da Silva has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

Born in the hardscrabble northeast, da Silva rose through the ranks of the union in the country's industrial south.

In 1980, during the military dictatorship, he was arrested in Sao Bernardo do Campo for organising strikes. He governed from 2003 to 2010, leaving office an global celebrity and with approval ratings in the high 80s.


Former US president Barack Obama once called da Silva the "most popular politician on Earth".

Such dramatic scenes throughout the day underscored the drama that has rapt a nation deeply divided on da Silva's legacy and whether he is guilty of corruption.

Before surrendering to federal police authorities, da Silva, 72, accused prosecutors and judges of knowingly pursuing a baseless case against him.

"Brazil has scored a goal against impunity and corruption, but it's hardly that".

Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, Saturday, April 7, 2018.

Having carved out a sustained and ample lead in the polls, da Silva promised his followers that the Workers' Party could once again wrest control of Brazil's destiny, and prioritise policies to narrow the country's steep inequality.

While Lula is expected to anoint an alternative candidate to replace him in the elections, his popularity is unlikely to transfer to another person.

Da Silva has vowed to continue his campaign from his jail cell, though Brazilian law will likely prevent him from running. Da Silva could appeal, though doing so from jail would be more complicated.

But he has become the highest-profile figure ensnared in a sprawling corruption scandal that has tarnished Brazil's political class. Over the last four years, Brazilians have seen near weekly police operations and arrests of the elite.

"I am the only human being to be put on trial for a flat that does not belong to me", he said.

"The prison order against Lula will scramble the electoral process even more by putting him in the spotlight", said Fitch Ratings director for Brazil, Rafael Guedes.

But, he added: "I will comply with their warrant".

After the speech, Lula was lifted onto the shoulders of supporters who chanted, "I am Lula".

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