Lula gets nearly 10 years in jail for graft

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

BRASILIA, Brazil — For­mer pres­i­dent Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva was sen­tenced to nearly 10 years in prison for graft in a stark fall from grace for the iconic leader.

Lula, who ruled Brazil from 2003-10, was con­victed and handed a 9.5-year prison term on Wed­nes­day for ac­cept­ing a lux­ury sea­side apart­ment and $1.1 mil­lion, the lat­est twist in a gi­ant cor­rup­tion probe en­gulf­ing Latin Amer­ica’s largest econ­omy.

But anti-cor­rup­tion judge Ser­gio Moro said the 71-yearold Lula would re­main free pend­ing an ap­peal — some­thing his lawyers im­me­di­ately said they would lodge.

“We are ap­peal­ing and will prove his in­no­cence,” the lawyers said in a state­ment, adding that their client is be­ing po­lit­i­cally per­se­cuted.

“For over three years, he has been the ob­ject of a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated in­ves­tiga- tion. No be­liev­able ev­i­dence of guilt was pre­sented, while solid proof of his in­no­cence was sum­mar­ily ig­nored,” they said.

The con­vic­tion nev­er­the­less landed a heavy blow on the prospect of Lula mak­ing a po­lit­i­cal come­back in pres­i­den­tial elec­tions due in Octo- ber next year.

It also sent a dra­matic mes­sage to much of the countr y ’s po­lit­i­cal class that they, too, risked fall­ing afoul of the anti-draft drive.

Even the cur­rent pres­i­dent, Michel Te­mer, has been charged with tak­ing bribes and sev­eral of his min­is­ters have re­signed after cor­rup­tion claims were made.

The sea change has come about be­cause of Operation “Car Wash”, a sweep­ing probe look­ing into a gi­ant em­bez­zle­ment and kick­backs scheme in­volv­ing state-owned oil group Petro­bras, con­struc­tion firms and sev­eral po­lit­i­cal par­ties — Lula’s Work­ers’ Party chief among them.

But while many Brazil­ians wel­come the long-over­due cleanup, the un­cer­tainty is hob­bling their coun­try’s strug­gle to exit from a his­toric re­ces­sion.

The verdict against Lula “all but rules him out of the run­ning for next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,” said Cap­i­tal Eco­nom­ics, an eco­nomic anal­y­sis firm.

It said the court’s de­ci­sion was “likely to give a near-term boost to Brazil­ian mar­kets” as the like­li­hood waned of Lula, a for­mer union leader, re­turn­ing to power and quash­ing needed eco­nomic re­forms cham­pi­oned by Te­mer.

Lula has re­peat­edly de­nied tak­ing any bribes dur­ing or after his pres­i­dency.

He has de­scribed the in­ves­ti­ga­tion against him as a cam­paign to pre­vent his re­turn to power.

(The verdict against Lula) rules him out of the run­ning for next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.” Cap­i­tal Eco­nom­ics, an eco­nomic anal­y­sis firm

MEHEDI HASAN / NURPHOTO VIA NEWSCOM

Mon­soon rains and chem­i­cal spillages from fac­to­ries par­a­lyzed the streets of Old Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Tues­day. The city has wit­nessed rapid in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion in re­cent years, but many plants lack proper waste-treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties.

Luiz Ina­cio Lula da Silva, for­mer Brazil­ian pres­i­dent

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