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Iran Press TV

Brazil's Lula says innocent but ready to turn himself in

Iran Press TV

Sat Apr 7, 2018 05:34PM

Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says he has been falsely accused of corruption but would comply with an arrest warrant and turn himself in to police.

Lula, who has been ordered to start a 12-year prison sentence for accepting a luxury apartment as a bribe, told his supporters on Saturday that federal judge Sérgio Moro "lied" about him being given the apartment by a big construction firm as a kickback.

"I am the only human being to be put on trial for an apartment which does not belong to me," the former leader said.

"I will comply with their warrant," he said.

The former leader accused the judiciary and media of assisting a right-wing coup to prevent him from taking part in the upcoming presidential elections.

The 72-year-old veteran politician said he wanted to go to prison and had rejected multiple suggestions of fleeing or seeking asylum abroad.

"I want to face them and look at them in their eyes," he said, referring to his accusers.

Lula vowed to continue his fight for proving his innocence, saying, "You'll see that I will come out of this bigger, stronger".

Lula did not say where or when he would turn himself in. Party leaders have suggested it would be later Saturday.

He was ordered to surrender to the authorities on Friday, but missed the deadline, staying holed-up in a metalworkers' union building near Sao Paulo surrounded by thousands of his supporters.

If Lula is jailed, he will not be able to run for president another time, as he currently wishes to.

Under Brazilian electoral law, a presidential candidate is forbidden from running for office for eight years after being found guilty of a crime, though some exemptions have been made in the past.

The ultimate decision about Lula, however, would be made by the top electoral court if and when Lula officially files to be a candidate.

He led Brazil in two four-year terms as president from 2003 to January 2011 and left office with an approval rating higher than 80 percent.

While he has a lead in opinion polls for the October presidential election, the former president likely would not be allowed to run.

According to opinion polls, other candidates, Ciro Gomes and Marina Silva, would gain the most from Lula not running in October.

Lula was convicted last year for taking $1.2 million in bribes from an engineering firm in return for help in landing contracts with state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA. The former president says the corruption charges against him are politically motivated.

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