Brazil's Lula surrenders to police

Hugh Fox
April 8, 2018

Brazil's election frontrunner and leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva aborted an attempt to surrender to police and start his prison sentence for corruption Saturday when a crowd of supporters mobbed his vehicle and prevented him from leaving.

Judge Sergio Moro, who oversees numerous so-called "Car Wash" cases, then ordered an arrest warrant for Lula, giving him until 5 pm Friday to present himself to police in Curitiba, about 417 kilometres (260 miles) southwest of Sao Bernardo do Campo, and begin serving his 12-year sentence.

The prior leader spoke on Saturday for the first time as Judge Sergio Moro issued a warrant because of his arrest on Thursday.

Nevertheless, both sides backed away from outright confrontation, given that taking Lula by force would certainly provoke violent resistance from his backers.

His defense has said he is a victim of political persecution.

"There is a discussion between police and the ex-president's lawyers and the party is following this. I will not stop because I am not a human being, I am an idea and I am with you".

Ever since Wednesday, Mr da Silva and his supporters have tried everything to delay the start of his prison sentence, battling everywhere from the supreme court to the streets.

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Lula da Silva has strongly denied any wrongdoing. A similar appeal at another court failed earlier in the day.

Last year, Moro convicted Lula for accepting perks from a major construction firm that won lucrative government contracts, including the use of a luxury beachside apartment.

However, his supporters had tears at the exit of a man they remember for removing tens of millions of people from poverty and for connected with voters in a way few, if any, other modern Brazilian politicians have managed.

Lula himself had not addressed the crowd almost 24 hours after arriving at the building, but briefly appeared at a window to wave.

"We are here to resist to the end".

Mauricio Santoro, a political science professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, said that by not complying with the order on Friday da Silva "wanted to demonstrate strength and popularity, showing that he is a political leader capable of gathering a crowd in his support".

However, his imminent arrest is being celebrated by many Brazilians.

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He also faces multiple other court cases and is considered the biggest scalp so far for prosecutors with the mammoth anti-graft probe, dubbed "Car Wash" - an unravelling of systemic bribery and embezzlement in the top echelons of Brazilian politics.

"We will never surrender to corruption", Moro said in October when Notre Dame University presented him with its Notre Dame Award - one of several times he's received global attention.

"We must now be ready to arrange everything in the best way possible", said Boudens.

"Not only Lula should be locked up, but all the corrupt, a complete cleaning".

The charges against Lula came from an anti-corruption investigation known as Operation Car Wash, which has embroiled top politicians from several parties.

The union was where the former president began his ascent to political power.

In theory, once someone has been convicted and lost a lower court appeal, he or she is barred from running for office under Brazil's clean-slate law. The sign reads: "Lula, the place for a thief is prison".

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