International

Lula turns himself in to police, begins prison term

Brazil’s ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva being lifted by supporters in São Bernardo do Campo on Saturday.  

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva turned himself in to police on Saturday, ending a day-long stand-off to begin serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption that derails his bid to return to power.

Lula was flown by police to the southern city of Curitiba, where he was tried and convicted late last year, and taken to the federal police headquarters there to serve his sentence.

Protesters supporting Lula clashed with police outside the walls of the building. Officers used stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

In a fiery speech hours earlier to a crowd of supporters of his Workers’ Party outside the union building in São Paulo, Lula insisted on his innocence and called his bribery conviction a political crime, but said he would turn himself in.

“I will comply with the order,” he told the cheering crowd. “I’m not above the law. If I didn’t believe in the law, I wouldn’t have started a political party. I would have started a revolution.”

Lula, who faces six more trials on corruption charges, finally ended the stand-off when he moved out in a convoy of black police SUVs after pushing his way out of the steel workers union headquarters where he had taken refuge.

Lula’s imprisonment removes the frontrunner from this year’s presidential campaign, according to analysts.

He was convicted of taking bribes, including a three-story seaside apartment that he denies ever owning, from an engineering firm in return for help landing public contracts.

A Brazilian Supreme Court justice on Saturday rejected the latest plea by Lula’s legal team, which argued they had not exhausted procedural appeals when a judge issued the order to turn himself in.

Under Brazilian electoral law, a candidate is forbidden from running for office for eight years after being found guilty of a crime. Rare exceptions have been made in the past, and the final decision would be made by the top electoral court if and when Lula officially files to be a candidate.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2020 3:42:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/lula-turns-himself-in-to-police-begins-prison-term/article23474504.ece

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