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Brazil's former president Lula defies prison order over corruption charges, creating standoff
07 April 2018, 02:41 | Damon Campbell
Former Brazilian President Lula waves to supporters outside of ABC Steelworkers Union headquarters in Sao Bernardo do Campo
The same steelworkers union in Sao Paulo's industrial suburbs where Lula sought refuge served as the launch pad for his political career almost four decades ago, when he led nationwide strikes that helped to end Brazil's 1964-85 military government.
Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves to supporters in front of the metal workers union headquarters in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil. Lula is the victim of an injustice without size, ' reported the digital newspaper Brasil 247.
But 5 p.m. came and went and the leftist leader remained inside the boxy glass headquarters of the national metalworkers' union with which his improbable political career began, in a piece of riveting political theatre that played out into the night.
Brazil's top appeals court has rejected the latest plea by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to stay out of jail until he has exhausted all appeals of his corruption conviction. Lula, who left the presidency in 2011 with soaring approval ratings, has been attempting to stage a political comeback and secure another term in office.
Lula's lawyer Cristiano Zanin protested the deadline, saying his client can legally file more appeals to the Federal Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Justice before April 10.
Anna Julia Menezes Rodrigues, a specialist in criminal law at Braga Nascimento e Zilio, said da Silva's defiance did not turn him into a fugitive.
Last year, Moro convicted da Silva of buying and selling favors having a building company in trade for its promise of a beachfront apartment.
"Lula is Brazil's most popular politician by a huge margin, and the judicial persecution of him is aimed at stopping him becoming President again", said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. He has always maintained his innocence while continuing to campaign across the country the past year.
Lula himself had not addressed the crowd almost 24 hours after arriving at the building, although union leaders said in a statement posted on their website that he would speak to the crowd late Friday afternoon.
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Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, a right-leaning legislator who is running second in the polls behind da Silva, summed up what many da Silva detractors were likely thinking.
Despite the conviction and several other corruption charges pending against him, da Silva leads all preference polls for the election.
Universally known as Lula, Lula da Silva is a founding member of Brazil's only socialist political party, Partido dos Trabalhadores, the Workers' Party. However, da Silva could appeal such a decision, though doing so from jail would be more complicated.
Technically, beginning to serve his sentence would not keep da Silva off the ballot.
Brazilians were riveted by the drama on Friday amid uncertainty about when and how da Silva, once a lion of Latin America's left, would be taken into custody.
On Jan. 24, an appeals court in the southern city of Porto Alegre voted unanimously to uphold that earlier verdict and increase Lulas prison sentence to 12 years and one month.
Lula da Silva strongly denied any wrongdoing.
Investigators discovered a major strategy in which building organizations essentially made a cartel that doled out contracts that were inflated out of state oil firm Petrobras, paying billions in kickbacks to politicians and businessmen.
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