Lula gets nearly 10 years in jail for graft
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
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