SAO BERNARDO DO CAMPO, Brazil — Latin America’s largest nation prepared for what would have been unimaginable just a few years ago: the arrest of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a once wildly popular leader whose administrations were credited with bringing millions out of poverty in one of the world’s most unequal countries.
Federal judge Sergio Moro, seen by many in Brazil as a crusader against graft, gave da Silva until 5 p.m. local time Friday to turn himself in and begin serving a sentence of 12 years and one month for a corruption conviction.
Moro’s warrant Thursday evening came after Brazil’s top court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal, voted 6-5 to deny a request by the former president to stay out of prison while he appealed a conviction that he contends was simply a way to keep him off the ballot in October’s election. He is the front-running presidential candidate despite his conviction.
In a statement, Moro said he was giving da Silva the opportunity to come in of his own accord because he had been Brazil’s president. He also said a special cell away from other inmates had been prepared for da Silva at the jail in Curitiba, where Moro ordered da Silva to present himself.
Last year, Moro convicted da Silva of trading favors with a construction company in exchange for the promise of a beachfront apartment. That conviction was upheld by an appeals court in January.
The speed with which Moro issued the warrant surprised many, as legal observers said there were technicalities from da Silva’s upheld appeal that would not be sorted out until next week.
Such technicalities “were simply a pathology that should be eliminated from the judicial world,” Moro said in his statement.
Late Thursday, thousands gathered outside a metallurgical union in Sao Bernardo do Campo, a Sao Paulo suburb where the ex-president universally known as “Lula” got his start as a union organizer. Hundreds spent the night sleeping on the street. Early Friday, da Silva waved to supporters from a window at the union but did not speak.
“Why are they in a rush to arrest him?” said former President Dilma Rousseff, who succeeded da Silva and in 2016 was impeached and ousted from office. “They fear that Lula would get a favorable decision in (a higher appeals) court. That is part of the coup that removed me from the presidency.”
It’s unclear whether da Silva will present himself in the city of Curitiba, about 260 miles (417 kilometers) southeast of Sao Paulo, or perhaps instead force police to come and get him. The latter would be a logistical nightmare for authorities, given the thousands of supporters outside and heavy Friday traffic in Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city.
“I don’t see why he should turn himself in just because judge Moro had an anxiety crisis,” said Sen. Lindbergh Farias. “I think they should have to go through the embarrassment of coming here and taking him in front of all these people.”
“That footage will be seen around the world and it …read more
Source:: Deseret News – World News