Brazil's left shaken by prospects of Lula jail, markets rally

The hearing prompted protests in support of the popular politician who many say is victim
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07 April, 2018

Federal judge Sergio Moro, who oversaw Brazil's sprawling corruption investigation "Operation Car Wash", on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for Lula and ordered the former president to turn himself in to the authorities in Curitiba, capital of southern Parana State, by 5 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Friday to begin a 12 year and one month prison sentence for passive corruption and money laundering. The magistrate had granted Lula, "for dignity of position he held", opportunity to surrender himself to justice.

"We are here to show that the workers will resist this attack against democracy", said Jorge Nazareno, a union leader who said he had met briefly with Lula on Friday morning.

However, in January, an appeals court unanimously increased the sentence to 12 years, the report said.

But the court's decision not to grant his request to remain free while appealing the conviction has cast doubt on his bid to regain power. "He dug his own political grave by leading a complex corruption scheme", said Senator Alvaro Dias, the presidential candidate for the centrist Podemos party.

Lula's likely imminent incarceration throws into chaos his plan to stage a comeback in an October presidential election.

His endorsement was enough to get his hand-picked successor Dilma Rousseff elected twice.

Lula da Silva was accused of benefiting from the renovation of a triplex in a beach town near Sao Paulo by the construction company OAS.

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She took a deep breath, wiped the tears and resumed speaking. "And it was never true", she said in between sobs of happiness. She said she "did not realise how lovely Swat was" until she moved to the UK. "I don't normally cry", she continued.

The appeal would nearly certainly be quickly rejected and Lula, once one of the world's most popular politicians, would be ordered to start his sentence immediately.

Despite his legal troubles, he still leads preference polls to return to office - if by some chance he is allowed to run.

Earlier on Thursday, the head of the Workers' Party insisted that Da Silva, 72, would be the party's candidate in October.

But he is expected to be made ineligible under Brazil's "Ficha Limpa" or "Clean Record" law, which bans political candidates from running for public office for eight years once they've been convicted of a serious crime.

"Brazil scored a goal against impunity and corruption", said Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, a right-leaning former army captain who is second in the polls after da Silva.

Lula has until mid-August to register his candidacy and only after that will the Superior Electoral Tribunal rule on whether his candidacy is valid.

But opponents and prosecutors believe he is properly being punished for high-level corruption revealed through an epic "Car Wash" graft probe that has rocked Brazilian politics and business over the past four years. However, da Silva could appeal such a decision, though doing so from jail would be more complicated. Rousseff was impeached and removed from office in a corruption scandal and economic crisis in mid-2016.


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