Published: Sat, April 07, 2018

Lula fights prison order, won't turn himself in

Lula fights prison order, won't turn himself in

The deadline was 5:00 pm (2000 GMT) Friday.

And though he has denied having any political ambitions, the latest Datafolha poll ahead of October's presidential election show that if the vote were held now, the Moro would be one of the only figures who would likely beat Lula.

The longer he remained holed up inside the union building, the bigger the crowd grew outside.

Renata Swiecik, an unemployed mother of four who had joined the crowd, urged Lula not to hand himself over.

Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defied a judge's order to turn himself in to police on Friday and start serving a 12-year prison sentence for bribery that would likely end his hopes of regaining the presidency. "Lula will not be a prisoner in 2018, he'll be president and help the people once more", said Swiecik, 31.

Lula, convicted past year of taking a luxury apartment as a kickback from a big construction company, has not spoken publicly since Judge Sergio Moro issued his dramatic arrest warrant on Thursday.

The defence says Lula's ownership of the apartment has never been proven and that his conviction rests largely on the word of the former chairman of OAS, himself convicted of corruption. There was no way to confirm the report.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama once called da Silva the "most popular politician on Earth".

"Lula did not comply with a judicial order", a spokesman for Moro told AFP, "but everyone knows where he is". A lower court appeal against the conviction was rejected this January.

Lula's lawyers have taken his case to the UN Human Rights Council, pointing to the blatant bias of judges and prosecutors and asking the Council to recognise that "the regional court which found him guilty, Judge Sergio Moro and the "Car Wash" Federal Prosecutors have violated Lula's rights to privacy, right to a fair trial, freedom from arbitrary arrest, the right to freedom of movement and right to be presumed innocent until found guilty".

They remember him for a 2003-2010 presidency that saw tens of millions lifted from poverty and Brazil rise on the world stage.

Despite all his legal problems, Lula remains by far the highest polling of any candidate for the October 7 elections, with a hard-right former army captain, Jair Bolsonaro, in a distant second place. In this particular case the goal is to destroy Lula politically and to destroy his party, the worker's party.

Cassio Goncalves, a labour safety specialist at the union headquarters, said Lula's Workers Party had not considered alternatives in the presidential race. Moro is the main judge presiding over Brazil's "Car Wash" corruption investigation and has gained global recognition for holding some of Brazil's most powerful politicians accountable in the scandal.

To them, Lula epitomizes Brazil's corruption-riddled elite. His conviction is the biggest "Car Wash" scalp by far.

Parana is where Moro has been leading Brazil's wide-reaching investigation into corruption involving state oil giant Petrobras.

The same steelworkers union in Sao Paulo's industrial suburbs where 72-year-old Lula sought refuge served as the launch pad for his political career almost four decades ago when he led nationwide strikes that helped to end Brazil's 1964-85 military government.

In theory, once someone has been convicted and lost a lower court appeal, he or she is barred from running for office under Brazil's clean-slate law.

In Brazil the right wing parties are strong enough to have a large majority in congress, but can not find a viable presidential candidate. It would then be up to the Superior Electoral Tribunal to rule on whether his candidacy could stand.

"Of course a strong political leader like Lula would use the opportunity to benefit politically", Prof.

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