Brazilian prosecutors have doubled former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s jail sentence following his second corruption and money laundering case. His supporters took to the streets in protest across Brazil Thursday.
Lula, 73, who led Brazil between 2003 and 2010, was convicted on corruption charges in 2017 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He later had the conviction upheld in January 2018 for which he is currently serving a punitively extended 12-year sentence. Now, an additional 12 years and 11 months have been added to his sentence following this latest conviction.
There have been protests in support of and against Lula across Brazil since the corruption scandal broke. Supporters took to the streets again after his jail sentence was doubled on Wednesday.
Since the beginning of the initial case against him, Lula and his legal team have claimed it was an opposition tactic to prevent him from running against the now-President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro tweeted news of the second conviction without comment.
Da Silva, a two-time president who left office in 2011 with a record-high approval rating, was leading in the polls last year to win another term even after he went to jail. But less than a month before the vote, electoral authorities barred him from running because of the corruption conviction.
The case stems from extensive renovations on a beach front property carried out by construction group OAS. Lula denied the house belonged to him, claiming instead that his friend Fernando Bitter was the owner.
“The accused received these unjustified benefits because of his position as president of the republic, of whom exemplary behaviour is demanded,” said Judge Gabriela Hardt.
Judge Hardt took control of a sprawling corruption investigation, known as Operation Car Wash, which has shaken Brazilian political, financial and judicial institutions to their core. Hardt took over from Sergio Moro who was appointed as Bolsonaro’s minister for justice. The US Department of Justice has dubbed Car Wash “the largest foreign bribery case in history.”
Meanwhile, the leader of Lula’s left-wing Worker’s Party (PT) Gleisi Hoffmann tweeted“the persecution of Lula continues,” in reaction to the latest decision.
READ MORE: Bolsonaro gives top justice role to judge who jailed his rival Lula, sparking outrage
In Brazil, those convicted can be released on probation after a minimum of a third of their sentence has been served, meaning now that Lula will not be allowed to leave prison for eight years rather than four. He was not allowed leave to attend his brother’s funeral which took place last week.
Bolsonaro previously said he hopes Lula “rots in prison.”
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