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Brazil's Lula ignores deadline to report to prison

7 April 2018 13:11

SAO PAULO . KAZINFORM Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is likely to spend Friday night inside a union headquarters near Sao Paulo after declining to surrender to Brazilian Federal Police and begin serving a sentence for corruption, one of his political allies said, according to EFE.

"Tomorrow we will be here to attend a Mass in memory of Marisa Leticia (the former president's late wife) and I believe it is important that we remain here, in solidarity with Lula, because IU I believe he is going to sleep here," ex-Sen. Eduardo Suplicy told reporters outside the building.

Lula's Workers Party (PT) confirmed that a Mass will be held outside the union building on Saturday to mark what would have been the 67th birthday of Marisa Leticia, who died in February 2017.

Off the record, a PT insider said that Lula ignored a deadline to turn himself in because he wanted to be present for the memorial service, while sources in the Federal Police told EFE that authorities would wait until at least Saturday before trying to arrest the former head of state.

Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003-2011 and remains the country's most popular politician, has been hunkered down since Thursday afternoon inside the headquarters of the Metalworkers Union in Sao Bernardo do Campo, where he began his political career in the 1970s as a labor militant challenging the 1964-1985 military regime.

The judge who handed down the original corruption conviction issued a decree late Thursday giving the former head of state until 5 pm Friday to surrender to Federal Police in Curitiba, a city in southern Brazil.

The PT chair said Friday that Lula was not defying the court order.

"There is no disobedience on Lula's part," Sen. Gleisi Hoffman told reporters in Sao Bernardo. "The judge gave him the option to go to Curitiba to surrender and to not exercise that option."

"(H)e decided to stay with the union, which is a public place, so that everybody, including the foreign press that is following him, knows his whereabouts," she said.

Sources in the PT and Federal Police confirmed that talks were continuing between Lula's attorneys and authorities.

Lula is seeking to have his place of incarceration shifted from Curitiba to a facility in Sao Paulo state, preferably in Sao Bernardo do Campo, where he resides, some in the PT suggested,

It was after midnight Wednesday when Brazil's Supreme Court voted 6-5 to reject a defense motion that sought to keep Lula out of jail until he has exhausted all appeals.

He was convicted in July 2017 of accepting bribes in exchange for helping Brazilian construction company OAS obtain lucrative contracts from state oil company Petrobras.

On Jan. 24, an appeals court in the southern city of Porto Alegre voted unanimously to uphold that earlier verdict and increase Lula's prison sentence to 12 years and one month.

That same court on March 26 rejected Lula's appeal of its own earlier decision.

The case against Lula, who denies any wrongdoing, is based largely on plea-bargained testimony from people already convicted as part of the sprawling investigation into the $2 billion Petrobras scandal.

The PT has already proclaimed Lula as its candidate in this year's presidential election and he leads in the polls.

Hoffman said Thursday that the PT will stick with Lula as its standard-bearer regardless of his legal situation.