By Bartholomew Madukwe with Agency Report
Brazil’s supreme court on Thursday, ruled that the country’s former President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, must start serving a 12-year jail sentence for accepting bribes.
In late January, an appeals court unanimously upheld the corruption and money laundering charges against the 72-year-old former president and he was handed a 12-year prison sentence, reports CNN.
Lula da Silva was initially found guilty of the charges in July 2017, though he strongly denied any wrongdoing.
The former president 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 country’s elections.
His conviction stemmed from a wide-ranging corruption investigation into the state-run oil company Petrobras, dubbed “Operation Car Wash,” reports CNN.
He was accused of benefiting from the renovation of a triplex in a beach town near Sao Paulo by the construction company OAS. 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, prosecutors charged.
The accusations against Lula da Silva (universally known as Lula) emerged after he left office in 2011. His conviction was upheld on a first appeal.
Lula da Silva is a founding member of Brazil’s only socialist political party, Partido dos Trabalhadores, the Workers’ Party.
Under Brazilian electoral law, a candidate is forbidden from running for elected office for eight years after being found guilty of a crime.
He won two terms as president, serving from October 2002 until January 2011. was friends with the late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, who supported his political career.
SUPREME COURT DECISION ENDS POLITICAL MOTIVE
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.
Lula da Silva bid not to serve his 12-year sentence for accepting bribes failed following Justice Rosa Weber’s vote.
The judge was seen as the only swing vote and her decision sealed his fate.
The decision will now go back to the lower court, where a warrant for his arrest is expected to be issued within days.
It will be recalled that Lula’s successor, President Dilma Rousseff, was impeached and removed from office amid a corruption scandal and economic crisis.