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Lula behind bars

April 7, 2018

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has arrived in prison to start a 12-year sentence. Amid chaotic scenes, the popular leftwing figure gave himself up to police after three days holed up in his metalworkers union stronghold.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva leaves the metallurgic trade union
Image: Reuters/L. Benassatto

Ex-President Lula behind bars

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was flown on Saturday evening to the prison in the southern city of Curitiba where he is due to serve his 12-year sentence for corruption

The former two-term president landed in a police helicopter on the roof of federal police headquarters in Curitiba, where Brazil's anti-graft "Car Wash" investigation is based.

Demonstrators outside let off fireworks and riot police fired tear gas as Lula was taken into the prison. Eight people were lightly injured, including one hit by a rubber bullet, the fire department said.

Lula handed himself over to police custody earlier on Saturday, following a tense standoff between his supporters and the authorities.

Several thousand Workers' Party supporters and other activists had set up a human cordon around the union building where Lula was holed up, refusing to hand him over to police after he lost his most recent appeal.

The metalworkers' union headquarters in the southern city of Sao Bernardo do Campo has been the focus of supporters' attempts to keep Lula out of prison since a judge issued his arrest warrant on corruption charges on Thursday.

When he stepped out to attend a street mass on Saturday morning, the crowd chanted: "Free Lula, free Lula!"

He has declared his innocence on charges of bribe-taking.

Lula is still Brazil's most popular former leader, and had been the front-runner for October's presidential elections.

There were also reports of fireworks and cheering in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and other cities from people who consider Lula responsible for opening the doors to much of the corruption in Brazilian politics.

A convicted politician

Lula — who was president from 2003 to 2010 — was convicted in July of corruption and money laundering in connection with the renovation of a beachside penthouse he was planning to buy.

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

He faces a jail term of 12 years and one month.

Lula's several requests to stay out of jail until he had exhausted all appeals against his corruption conviction were rejected.

The electoral court is widely expected to bar Lula from contesting the upcoming elections.

jbh/es (dpa, AFP)

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