Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been handed a prison sentence of almost 13 years for corruption. He was already serving time over similar charges that supporters say were politically motivated.
A court in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba on Wednesday handed a sentence of 12 years and 11 months to Lula, in a new corruption conviction for the former left-wing leader.
Judge Gabriela Hardt said she agreed with prosecutors that a house near Sao Paulo that Lula was using had been renovated for him by companies embroiled in the corruption scandal around state-owned oil firm Petrobras.
“It’s a fact that President Lula’s family stayed at the property on a frequent basis and used it as if he was the owner,” said Hardt.
“The accused received these unjustified benefits because of his position as president of the republic, of whom exemplary behavior is demanded,” she said.
Prosecutors claimed that construction giant Odebrecht and two other firms had carried out work at the house in Atibaia near Sao Paulo, in exchange for contracts with Petrobras.
Lula’s conviction for corruption and money laundering comes after he was sentenced to 12 years and one month in prison in April last year. He was convicted of similar offenses over the renovation of a beachside penthouse he was planning to buy.
In both cases, Lula denies guilt and he is expected to appeal the latest sentence.
Lula’s allies claimed that the proceedings were a case of political persecution. The 2018 prison sentence prevented him from contesting the presidential electionin October, which was won by populist candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who was sworn in as president on January 1.
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“The persecution of Lula doesn’t stop,” said the head of Lula’s Worker’s Party, Gleisi Hoffmann, in response to the latest sentence. “In the memory of the people and in history, Lula will always be greater than his tormentors.”
Lula, a working-class president, oversaw strong economic growth and falling inequality during his time in office from 2003 to 2011. He enjoyed high popularity ratings, even as concern grew about corruption surrounding his government.
rc/msh (AP, dpa, AFP, EFE, LUSA)