Published: Mon, April 09, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Lula turns himself in to Brazil police, ending standoff in corruption case

Lula turns himself in to Brazil police, ending standoff in corruption case

His imprisonment would remove the most influential figure from Brazil's political scene, and the frontrunner of this year's presidential campaign, scrambling a wide-open race and strengthening the odds of a more centrist candidate prevailing, according to analysts and political foes.

The 72-year-old will be taken by police to a jail cell on Saturday in the southern city of Curitiba, where he will begin serving his 12-year sentence for corruption.

Brazil's former President Luiz Lula da Silva greeting fans.

On Wednesday night, Brazil's Supreme Federal Court has ordered to send Lula da Silva to jail following a guilty verdict in the corruption case, related to the purchase of a luxury apartment in the resort city of Guaruja.

Surrounded by thousands of supporters at the metalworkers' union building in the suburb, he brazenly ignored an order to turn himself in by Friday, April 6.

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.

Then Saturday, he agreed to turn himself in, but in chaotic scenes found himself blocked by his own supporters, with a crowd mobbing his vehicle and shouting "Don't surrender, stay here Lula!"

Da Silva, who Brazilians simply call "Lula", did no such thing.

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"If my crime was putting poor, black people in universities, allowing poor people to eat meat, to have their own cars, have their own homes", Lula said, "then I will continue being a criminal in this country, because I will do much more". It was expected to deny da Silva's candidacy under Brazil's "clean slate" law, which disqualifies people who have had criminal convictions upheld.

"I will comply with the order", Lula told hundreds of supporters surrounding union earlier in the day.

" I hope this is the start of a new era", said Nicolas Nunes, 30, an investment banker in Sao Paulo.

Separate groups of Lula Da Silva's supporters and opponents gathered outside the Curitiba Federal Police department.

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.

They remember him for a 2003-2010 presidency that saw tens of millions lifted from poverty and Brazil rise on the world stage.

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. He has also said he plans to run for president later this year.

He won two terms as President.

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The renovation was bankrolled by a company seeking contracts with the state oil giant Petrobras.

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.

With Lula nearly certainly knocked out of the presidential election, the race is likely to be thrown wide open.

He said that Brazil's top anti-corruption judge, Sergio Moro, "lied" about him being given the flat by a big construction firm as a kickback.

"I want Lula in prison, I want a better future and with him in the leadership we won't have that", said Maura Moraes de Oliveira, 51, who works as a maid in Curitiba.

To his Workers' Party faithful, Lula is a victim of an out-of-control judiciary preventing him from returning to power.

"Let Lula stay there for a long time and all his bunch with him". "That way, they will know I am not afraid".

Authorities took pains to reduce tensions, stressing that Lula was not considered a fugitive - something that would trigger a preventative arrest warrant.

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In January, an appeals court unanimously upheld the conviction and increased the sentence to 12 years. The three reviewing magistrates even lengthened the sentence to 12 years and one month.

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