Judge orders arrest of ex-Brazilian President

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Brasilia, April 6 (IANS) A federal judge has ordered the arrest of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, giving him until late Friday to surrender before the police, according to an arrest warrant.

The order was given on Thursday after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that Lula da Silva must start serving a 12-year jail sentence for corruption, a move that may end his political career, reports CNN.

Lula da Silva will not be handcuffed and will be placed in a separate jail cell upon his arrest, according to the arrest warrant.

The 72-year-old former President, 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.

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Lula da Silva had filed a habeas corpus request to delay his prison sentence, but the Supreme Court ruled against him 6-5, a close verdict on an issue that has divided the country and raised tensions ahead of the elections.

In January, an appeals court unanimously upheld the corruption and money laundering charges against him, and he was handed a 12-year prison sentence.

Lula da Silva was initially found guilty of the charges in July 2017 which he has strongly denied, saying he was a victim of political persecution.

His conviction stemmed from a wide-ranging corruption investigation into the state-run oil company Petrobras, dubbed “Operation Car Wash.” The accusations against him emerged after he left office in 2011, CNN reported.

Lula da Silva was accused of benefiting from the renovation of a triplex in a beach town near Sao Paulo by the construction company OAS.

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The charges were connected to 3.7 million reais’ ($1.1 million) worth of bribes received from OAS through the beachfront apartment.

In return, Lula da Silva helped the builder acquire contracts from the oil company, prosecutors charged.

Universally known as Lula, Lula da Silva is a founding member of Brazil’s only socialist political party, Partido dos Trabalhadores, the Workers’ Party.

–IANS

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