Brasilia (April 07, 2018): Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva failed to turn himself in to federal authorities on Friday, when he was supposed to begin serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.
An arrest warrant required Lula da Silva, 72, to surrender to police by 5 p.m. local time in the southern city of Curitiba. Instead, he remains at the headquarters of Brazil’s Metalworkers union in the city of Sao Bernardo do Campo in Sao Paulo state, some 260 miles away.Large crowds of Lula supporters have gathered there to protest in support of him. On Thursday, a federal judge ordered Lula da Silva’s arrest after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that he must start serving the 12 years.
Shortly before Friday’s deadline, Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice, the nation’s highest appellate court, rejected a habeas corpus request to delay the prison time.
Lula da Silva, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011, had been considered a frontrunner in elections due in October. 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.In late January, an appeals court unanimously upheld the corruption and money laundering charges against him, and he was handed the prison sentence. Lula da Silva was initially found guilty of the charges in July 2017.
Lula da Silva strongly denied any wrongdoing. His defense said he was a victim of political persecution.His conviction stemmed from a wide-ranging corruption investigation into the state-run oil company Petrobras, dubbed “Operation Car Wash.” The accusations against him emerged after he left office in 2011.
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. The charges were connected to 3.7 million reais’ ($1.1 million) worth of bribes received from OAS through the beachfront apartment. In return, Lula da Silva helped the builder acquire contracts from the oil company, prosecutors charged.