Once wildly popular, Brazil’s Lula is jailed for corruption

Once wildly popular, Brazil’s Lula is jailed for corruption

Brasília: Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva spent his first night in jail, a stunning fall from grace for a man who rose from nothing to lead Latin America’s largest nation and later became engulfed in corruption allegations.
Foreshadowing possible clashes in the weeks to come, police shot rubber bullets and sprayed tear gas on Saturday at supporters waiting for da Silva as he landed in a police helicopter in the southern city of Curitiba, where he will serve his 12 year sentence for money laundering and corruption.
TRT World’s Michael Fox has more.
Da Silva, who Brazilians simply call “Lula” was surrounded by hundreds of diehard supporters, including leaders of his Workers Party, union workers and activists, in the industrial suburb of Sao Paulo where his political career began as a union official.
This was sometime after upset supporters attempted to block the former leader from presenting himself to police.
When he tried to leave to turn himself in, dozens blocked a gate where a car carrying Lula was trying to exit.
“Surround, surround (the building) and don’t let them arrest him,” chanted supporters.
After a few minutes of tense words between guards and supporters, Lula got out of the car and entered the metal workers union where he had been holed up. It was unclear how he might turn himself into police, who have been wary to enter the metal workers union so as to avoid clashes.
Earlier in the day, Lula told thousands of supporters that he would turn himself in to police, but also maintained his innocence and argued his corruption conviction was simply a way for enemies to make sure he doesn’t run — and possibly win — re-election in October.
The dramatic scenes on Saturday were the latest development in a whirlwind couple of days, which began when the Supreme Federal Tribunal, the country’s top court, ruled against his petition on Thursday to remain free while he continued to appeal his conviction.
Judge Sergio Moro, who oversees many of the so-called “Car Wash” cases, then ordered an arrest warrant for Lula, giving him until 5 pm Friday to present himself to police in Curitiba, about 417 kilometres (260 miles) southwest of Sao Bernardo do Campo, and begin serving his 12-year sentence.
Lula did no such thing.
Instead, he hunkered down with supporters in the same metallurgical union that was the spiritual birthplace of his improbable rise to power in one of the world’s most unequal countries.
“The police and ‘Car Wash’ investigators lied. The prosecutors lied,” Lula said, as a few thousand supporters cheered.
“I don’t forgive them for giving society the idea that I am a thief,” he continued.
Still, Lula said he would turn himself in “to go there and face them eye to eye. The more days they leave me (in jail), the more Lulas will be born in this country.”
While Lula spoke, some people cried while others chanted “Free Lula!” When he finished speaking, a sea of supporters carried him on their shoulders back into the building.