Brasilia, April 8 (IANS) Brazil’s embattled ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Saturday said he will turn himself in to authorities, after missing a 5 p.m. Friday deadline to do so.
“I will do as they asked, because I want to transfer the responsibility to those who have unjustly accused me,” Xinhua quoted Lula as saying.
He was speaking to thousands of supporters gathered outside the Metalworkers’ Union in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Sao Paulo, where he began his career as a union leader.
Lula, who insists he is innocent of wrongdoing, denied that he was trying to evade justice by ignoring a judge’s order to surrender to federal police, after his lawyers lost their latest appeal against their client’s 12-year sentence for alleged corruption.
The two-time president was accompanied by leaders of his left-leaning Workers’ Party and his successor and protege Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached in 2016, as well as several leftist presidential candidates running in October elections.
Lula’s hopes of running for re-election were dashed this week with the decision that he must begin serving his sentence, despite pending appeals.
He has maintained the charges that he accepted the gift of a luxury apartment from construction giant Odebrecht (now called OAS S.A) in return for government building contracts were politically motivated to prevent Brazil’s leading progressive candidate from taking part in the electoral process.