Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Deadline for Brazil's Lula to surrender for prison expires

Deadline for Brazil's Lula to surrender for prison expires

A demonstrator holds up a sign that reads in Portuguese "Lula, a thief's place is in prison" during a protest against Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in front of the Federal Police Department in Curitiba, Brazil, April 6.

The same steelworkers union in Sao Paulo's industrial suburbs where 72-year-old Lula sought refuge served as the launch pad for his political career almost four decades ago, when he led nationwide strikes that helped to end Brazil's 1964-85 military government.

It remains to be seen whether he will defy the arrest order in an attempt to wait for a higher court to rule on a last-minute appeal.

Last year, Temer was twice charged with corruption but remained in office because in both cases Congress, which must vote on criminal cases involving a sitting president, chose to spare him prosecution.

Lula's lawyers have taken his case to the UN Human Rights Council, pointing to the blatant bias of judges and prosecutors and asking the Council to recognise that "the regional court which found him guilty, Judge Sergio Moro and the "Car Wash" Federal Prosecutors have violated Lula's rights to privacy, right to a fair trial, freedom from arbitrary arrest, the right to freedom of movement and right to be presumed innocent until found guilty". A lower court appeal against the conviction was rejected this January.

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Supporters of Mr. da Silva, meanwhile, watch him as prey of underhanded power brokers who whipped a bogus criminal instance to maintain him along with his party from returning to power.

Hundreds of supporters filled the street outside the union headquarters, cheering defiant speeches calling the case a political witch hunt.

Ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the controversial frontrunner in Brazil's October presidential election, lost a last-ditch appeal Friday just minutes before a deadline to surrender and start a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.

Moro's offer was portrayed as a gesture of respect to Lula, who was president from 2003-2011 and left office with sky high ratings after overseeing a period of economic growth and dramatic reductions in extreme poverty.

Brazilians were riveted by the drama on Friday amid uncertainty about when and how da Silva, once a lion of Latin America's left, would be taken into custody. Over the last four years, Brazilians have experienced near weekly police operations and arrests of elite, from top politicians to businessmen like former Odebrecht CEO Marcelo Odebrecht.

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Investigators uncovered a major scheme in which construction companies essentially formed a cartel that doled out inflated contracts from state oil company Petrobras, paying billions in kickbacks to politicians and businessmen.

Still, the list of investigation targets include people across the spectrum, including President Michel Temer.

Lula was convicted previous year for taking bribes from an engineering firm in return for help landing contracts with state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

Technically, the Supreme Federal Tribunal's decision doesn't keep da Silva off the ballot. However, da Silva could appeal such a decision, though doing so from jail would be more complicated. He now faces six other corruption trials.

Li-S Moriconi donated coverage from Rio de Janeiro, and Manuela Andreoni from Curitiba, Brazil.

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