Brazilian ex-president Lula Da Silva surrenders to police
Brazilian ex-president Lula Da Silva surrenders to police
Former Brazilian President Lula waves to supporters outside of ABC Steelworkers Union headquarters in Sao Bernardo do Campo
09 April, 2018, 00:43
BRAZIL'S former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves to supporters in Sao Bernardo do Campo on Saturday.
Lula was flown by police to the southern city of Curitiba, where he was tried and convicted late a year ago, and taken to the federal police headquarters there to serve his sentence.
Judge Sergio Moro, who oversees numerous so-called "Car Wash" cases, ordered an arrest warrant for da Silva, giving him until 5pm local time on Friday to present himself to police in Curitiba, about 260 miles south west of Sao Bernardo do Campo.
Now, his backing for a candidate would not be enough, analysts said, adding that voters will likely abandon his party in droves when they see that its charismatic leader was no longer in the game.
"They have to know that the death of a combatant does not stop the revolution", da Silva told the crowd Saturday, as supporters jostled to prevent his departure. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share internal deliberations being discussed.
In a fiery speech to a crowd of red-shirted supporters outside a steel workers union headquarters, Brazil's first working-class president insisted on his innocence and called his bribery conviction a political crime, but relented after a almost 24-hour standoff with authorities.
"If Lula stole, at least he gave some of it to the people", said Jose Antonio da Silva, 52, a steelworker at Mercedes and member of the union. It just meant that it was now up to federal police to carry out the warrant, she said.
Judge Sergio Moro had ordered Lula to report to a police station in Curitiba by 5 p.m. on Friday, but he remained at the metalworkers union headquarters, which he once led, in Sao Paulo. He is the front-running presidential candidate despite his conviction.
Lula was found guilty past year of taking a luxury flat as a bribe from a construction company. That conviction was upheld by an appeals court in January. The former president has always denied wrongdoing in that case and in several other corruption cases that have yet to be tried.
It also marks the unmistakable end of an era for Brazil's left, which has been out in force in the streets outside the union headquarters in metropolitan São Paulo where Lula huddled with aides and allies while police awaited his surrender. He would spend more than a month in jail.
Da Silva did not say where or when he would turn himself in.
When that was turned down, he engaged in a standoff with authorities in his hometown Sao Bernardo do Campo, outside Sao Paulo. He left office with an approval rating higher than 80 percent.
Like so much in a nation that has become deeply polarized, that da Silva would soon be behind bars was being interpreted differently by supporters and detractors.
Only one shot was sacked and no one was hurt but it raised the alarm over tensions ahead of the vote in which Lula had hoped to make a comeback.
Having carved out a sustained and ample lead in the polls, da Silva promised his followers that the Workers' Party could once again wrest control of Brazil's destiny, and prioritise policies to narrow the country's steep inequality.
Technically, the fact that he will be jailed does not keep him off the ballot.
The electoral court is widely expected to bar Lula from contesting the upcoming elections. However, da Silva could appeal such a decision, though doing so from jail would be more complicated. For many, Lula epitomizes Brazil's corruption-riddled elite. The charges were part of a four-year probe known as Operation Car Wash that has ensnared most of Brazil's major politicians and several business leaders and sent the country spiraling into a deepening political crisis.
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