BRAZIL – Three judges said the former president had broken the law by taking bribes of US $1.1 million from the construction company OAS, one of the companies implicated in the Petrobras scandal known as “Lava Jato.”
The accused had been sentenced to nine and a half years in prison on charges of corruption in July 2017. But on Wednesday, the court recommended increasing the penalty to 12 years.
The fact that the ratification of the sentence was unanimously made by the three judges of the court is a serious obstacle to Lula’s return to being president.
With no vote against, the deadlines for the review of a possible appeal by Lula are shortened, reducing the chances that the former president could register his candidacy before having been definitively disqualified.
Lula denies having committed irregularities and argues that the trial against him had political interests to undermine his electoral aspirations.
The historic leader of the Workers’ Party has been chosen as the candidate of his party and, although there are still months left, the polls show him as the big favourite.
The scandal for which Lula was convicted is related to the case known as “Lava Jato”, the corrupt plot linked to the oil company Petrobras, which has convulsed the policy of the South American country in recent years.
Diego Scardone, spokesman for the Workers’ Party, criticised the sentence in statements to Conspiracy Talk News correspondents:
“The Workers’ Party understands that this goes beyond the case of Lula, we are living in a country where judges take actions that go beyond our constitution, and that other judges can repeat this in different cases to other Brazilians. We believe that this is not only Lula’s defense, but, beyond that, the defense of our democracy and our laws. “
The role of Sérgio Moro
According to the court that sentenced him, Lula accepted an apartment on a beach in Sao Paulo as a gift from a company that did business with his government.
The sentence was handed down by Sérgio Moro, the federal judge who led the investigation into the “Lava Jato” case and who has become one of the most notorious figures in Brazilian politics today.
The Workers’ Party and the followers of Lula, maintain that the sentence was politically motivated.
The PT assures that it does not contemplate or want any alternative candidate.
Lula accused his enemies of trying to get him out of the political arena, as in 2016 with his successor Dilma Rousseff, the case was dismissed after a parliamentary trial.
Mr. Rousseff was not found guilty of any criminal wrongdoing by the courts, but was responsible for budgetary irregularities by Congress.
His successor, President Michel Temer, and other Brazilian political leaders, have also been involved in the scandal, which has undermined the confidence of Brazilians in their political leaders.
“I am with the tranquillity of the just, of the innocent, I doubt that the judges who have already judged me and those who are going to judge me are as calm as I am. I know I did not commit any crime”, he stated.
Lula was president of Brazil between 2003 and 2010.
He was succeeded by his chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff. The dismissal in 2016 ended the 13 years of government of the Workers Party.