Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, was freed after more than 18 months in prison. The country’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday (Nov 7) to end mandatory imprisonment for convicts who lose their first appeal.
Lula was serving a 12-year corruption sentence for corruption and money laundering. He was convicted of taking bribes from engineering firms as part of the sweeping anti-corruption “Car Wash” investigation. Lula was accused of benefiing from a kick-back scheme at state oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras), receiving payments and luxury real estate.
Lula however claimed that he was framed in the corruption case out of political vendetta by the ‘rightwing’ government.A former federal judge Sergio Moro, who spearheaded the Car Wash investigations which convicted Lula, was later named as Justice minister in Bolsonaro's administration,
Thousands of supporters greeted the 74-year-old left-wing leader as he walked out of the federal police building Friday in the southern city of Curitiba.
Addressing his supported, Lula launched a scathing attack on President Jair Bolsonaro's economic policies and vowed to keep fighting for impoverished Brazilians.
“They did not imprison a man. They tried to kill an idea,” he thundered . “Brazil did not improve, Brazil got worse. The people are going hungry. The people are unemployed. The people do not have formal jobs. People are working for Uber – they’re riding bikes to deliver pizzas.”
Lula presideded over a period when country posted impressive economic growth. He is credited with innovative cash transfer schemes took tens of millions out of poverty.
Though he faces eight other cases, Lula’s surprise release from the prison is expected to galvanise the Brazilian Left weakened by series of corruption scandals, the impeachment of Lula’s chosen successor and protege Dilma Rousseff and a humiliating defeat in the 2018 general elections.
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