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Brazils former president Lula sentenced to prison on graft and money-laundering charges

Silva was convicted of graft and money-laundering

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BRAZILIA, Brazil - In a judgement that is bound to end his prospects of returning to the presidency in 2018 - Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sentenced to prison on corruption charges.

Silva was convicted of graft and money-laundering as part of the country’s multi-billion dollar sweeping corruption scandal.

According to a document from the federal court in Parana state, the lead judge in the case, Sergio Moro, sentenced Lula to nine and a half years. 

The document states that the judge has not asked for the former president’s immediate arrest. 

Lula’s lawyers have not made official comments so far.

The sentence delivers a major setback to 71-year-old former labor leader’s intentions of leading the Workers’ Party back to power in the 2018 election. 

Lula, who remains one of the most popular presidents in Brazilian history, had managed to consolidate his position in recent months as the front-runner for next year’s race. 

Now, if his sentence is upheld on appeal, he will become ineligible to run. 

The conviction of comes just days before a lower house vote on whether to put President Michel Temer on trial for corruption.

For over a year, as prosecutors filed charges against him in five separate criminal cases, graft investigations had been drawing closer to Lula.

The cases against him range from allegations of influence peddling to accepting perks from companies in exchange for government favors. 

While Lula has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, claiming the accusations are part of a campaign to discredit him. 

After this conviction, he is facing four more trials.

Commenting on the case, David Fleischer, professor emeritus at the University of Brasilia said, "Lula is on his way to ineligibility. It changes the whole political spectrum if he can’t run."

Moro said in his ruling that Lula had received undue benefits from OAS construction company and tried to hide his ownership of a beachside apartment, including an upgrade of the same property.

Members of the Workers’ Party in Congress, who have described the verdict as political, said it was designed to ensure Lula cannot run in 2018. 

Further, the party’s leadership announced plans to hold nationwide protests against the ruling.

Lula, who left the presidency in January 2011, after two terms in office, saw a record-high approval rating after tapping into a commodity boom to pull millions of Brazilians out of poverty. 

His successor, Dilma Rousseff, was however impeached last year over accusations of budget mishandling

 

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