Brasilia, April 7 (IANS) Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has ignored a deadline to surrender to the Federal Police and begin serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption, the media reported.
An arrest warrant required Lula, 72, to surrender to police by 5 p.m. on Friday in the southern city of Curitiba, reports CNN.
Instead, he remains at the headquarters of Brazil’s Metalworkers union in the city of Sao Bernardo do Campo in Sao Paulo state.
Lula’s Workers Party (PT) said that the former President was not defying the court order, reports Efe news.
“There is no disobedience on Lula’s part,” PT leader Gleisi Hoffman told reporters.
“The judge gave him the option to go to Curitiba to surrender and to not exercise that option.”
“He decided to stay with the union, which is a public place, so that everybody, including the foreign press that is following him, knows his whereabouts,” she said.
Sources in the PT and Federal Police confirmed that talks were continuing between Lula’s attorneys and authorities.
Large crowds of Lula supporters have gathered there to protest in his support.
On Thursday, a federal judge ordered Lula’s arrest after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that he must start serving the 12 years.
Shortly before Friday’s deadline, Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice, the nation’s highest appellate court, rejected a habeas corpus request to delay the prison time.
Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011, had been considered a frontrunner in elections due in October. But the court’s decision not to grant his request to remain free while appealing the conviction has cast doubt on his bid to regain power, CNN reported.
However, the PT said after Thursday’s ruling that the party will stick with Lula as its standard-bearer regardless of his legal situation.
In January, an appeals court unanimously upheld the corruption and money laundering charges against him, and he was handed the prison sentence.
The former President was initially found guilty of the charges in July 2017.
Lula has strongly denied any wrongdoing and said he was a victim of political persecution.
His wife, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, and six others also were charged. However, she died in February 2017.