Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been ordered to begin serving a 12-year sentence for corruption. He is appealing his conviction amid an attempted political comeback.
A Brazilian judge on Thursday issued a warrant to send former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to prison after an appeals court said he must start a 12-year term for corruption.
Lula was given until Friday at 5 p.m. local time (2000 UTC) to hand himself over to police in the city of Curitiba, according to a court document.
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The ex-leader had made requests to delay the sentence while pursuing appeals against his conviction, which was handed down last July. But the Supreme Court denied his claim earlier on Thursday.
Jail term extended
In January, an appeals court lengthened the 72-year-old's original nine year sentence to 12-years and one month.
Lula was found guilty of taking bribes from an engineering firm in return for help landing contracts with state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA.
His likely imminent jailing throws into chaos his plan to stage a comeback in October's presidential election first round.
Surveys had put him as the comfortable favorite, and his apparent downfall will throw the race wide open.
Lula's left-wing Workers Party said the former president would address supporters in his home town of Sao Bernardo do Campo late Friday.
"Lula continues to be our candidate, because he is innocent, and because he is the leading candidate to become the next president of Brazil," said Workers Party leader, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann.
Lula's conviction has divided public opinion in Brazil, where he has been widely lauded for lifting tens of millions out of poverty during his eight years in office in the 2000s.
Many of Lula's supporters see the legal wrangling as evidence of a plot to stop him becoming president again.
That view was shared by several leftist Latin American leaders, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Bolivian President Evo Morales.
But his opponents believe that justice is being served, amid an ever-widening corruption crackdown that has implicated several politicians and top business executives.
mm/bw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)