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Brazil's ex-president Lula is to stand trial for corruption

September 21, 2016

A Brazilian judge has accepted corruption charges against ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The graft trial comes hot on the heels of President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Image: picture-alliance/Estadao Conteudo/M. Fernandes

Judge Sergio Moro announced that there was enough evidence to start a trial against former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - known widely as "Lula" - on charges of money laundering and corruption.

"Given that there is sufficient evidence of responsibility [...] I accept the charges," Judge Moro said in his decision.

The judicial process against Silva would also involve his wife and six others as part of a corruption probe into the country's state-run oil company, Petrobras. Prosecutors have referred to Silva as the "maximum commander" of the Petrobras corruption scandal. Judge Moro said that Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2011, is charged with allegedly accepting 3.7 million reals ($1.15 million) in bribes at Petrobras.

Lula de Silva has rejected the corruption charges as "pure fiction," saying they were aimed at preventing him from running for president again.

A growing political crisis

Lula de Silva was charged with three counts each of corruption, which carry a maximum sentence of 16 years per count, as well as money laundering, with a possible sentence of up to 10 years per count. The sentence would, however, be determined by the judge if Lula was to be found guilty.

Lula's successor Dilma Rousseff was found guilty by the Senate of breaking budget rules and was dismissed from the presidency only a month ago. Her successor, former vice president Michel Temer, also faces corruption charges, making the political landscape of the country increasingly polarized between left-wing and right-wing supporters.

Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva both represent the recent history of the Workers' Party - without them, the movement may not survive the futureImage: Getty Images/I. Estrela

The charges against Lula could not only prevent him from making a political comeback in the 2018 presidential campaign, but could also derail any hopes his and Dilma Rousseff's Workers' Party (PT) of returning to power, or possibly even surviving. Despite the corruption allegations, recent polls show that Lula remains a leading candidate for 2018.

ss/kl (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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