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Brazil's ex-President Lula surrenders to police

09 April, 2018, 00:46 | Author: Tara Roberts
  • Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Finally in custody, the 72-year-old was driven under escort to Sao Paulo police headquarters for a medical exam.

After the incident with his supporters, Lula walked himself outside the gates of the headquarters, got into another vehicle and joined a police envoy.

He was then flying by jet to the southern city of Curitiba, base for Brazil's enormous "Car Wash" anti-corruption operation.

Lula's several requests to stay out of jail until he had exhausted all appeals against his corruption conviction were rejected.

Still, da Silva said he would turn himself in "to go there and face them eye to eye".

Former president maintains innocence but surrenders to police to begin serving 12-year jail sentence for corruption.

Friday night, thousands listened to music and speeches outside the metallurgical union in Sao Bernardo do Campo where the ex-president universally known as "Lula" got his start as a union organizer.

"They have to know that the death of a combatant does not stop the revolution", da Silva told the crowd Saturday, as supporters jostled to prevent his departure. Judge Sergio Moro, a leading figure in the Car Wash investigation, gave da Silva until 5 p.m. Friday to turn himself in.

Many Brazilians nostalgic for the social gains made during the Lula era came out to support him.

On January 24, Regional Federal Tribunal 4 confirmed the verdict for Lula da Silva increasing his jail term from nine years and six months to 12 years and one month. In 1980, during the military dictatorship, da Silva was arrested in Sao Bernardo do Campo for organizing strikes.

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They remember him for a 2003-2010 presidency that saw tens of millions lifted from poverty and Brazil rise on the world stage. The accusations against him emerged after he left office in 2011.

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. Rare exceptions have been made in the past, and the final decision would be made by the highest electoral court if and when Lula officially files to be a candidate. Technically, being jailed does not keep him off the ballot. For many, Lula epitomizes Brazil's corruption-riddled elite.

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.

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

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

"Their dream is for me not to run, their other dream is to see my picture in prison", Lula da Silva said Saturday.

Although Brazilian presidents of recent history have routinely ended up in trouble - impeached, brought down by a coup and even one suicide - Lula is the first to have been convicted of corruption and locked up.

Curitiba, in the south of Brazil, is the base for the country's enormous "Car Wash" anti-corruption operation in which Lula is the biggest scalp so far. While president, he managed to build bridges with the center and oversaw a booming economy.

Ever since Wednesday, Lula and his supporters have tried everything to delay the start of his prison sentence, battling everywhere from the Supreme Court to the streets.

The move intensified the roiling political drama in Latin America's largest nation and turned a man former US President Barack Obama once called "the most popular politician on Earth" into the region's most famous prisoner.

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