Having been denied his plea to avoid incarceration while he exhausts all appeal avenues, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva must now surrender to police by Friday afternoon.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on April 6, 2018

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — who was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment (after an appeal in January) — took to the Supreme Court to request freedom from incarceration while he explored all avenues of appeal.

But Supreme Court judges ruled against the man known as “Lula” in a vote on Thursday, and now he has been ordered to surrender to police by the end of the week.

Federal Judge Sergio Moro said the 72-year-old must turn himself in before 5pm (local time) on Friday at the federal police headquarters in Curitiba.

Judge Moro said that a special cell “was prepared in advance… in which the ex-president will be separated from other prisoners, with no risk for his moral or physical integrity”.

Imprisonment will most likely end his attempt to return to power, which had gained so much momentum he was a clear favourite to top the polls in October.

According to pollster Datafolha, he had amassed 36% of voter preferences, more than double the percentage of the nearest candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

But he is expected to be made ineligible under Brazil’s “Ficha Limpa” or “Clean Record” law, which bans political candidates from running for public office for eight years once they’ve been convicted of a serious crime.

It originated from a petition against corruption in politics, which garnered 3 million signatures, and was ironically signed off by none other than Lula himself.

What was Lula found guilty of?

Lula’s conviction was the result of an anti-corruption investigation known as Operation Car Wash.

It was initially a probe into black market money dealers who were laundering the proceeds of crime through small businesses like car washes.

But it quickly ballooned into an investigation of systemic corruption, involving top business executives and more than 80 politicians, including Lula.

Directors at Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, were accepting bribes from construction companies as reward for gifting them contracts at inflated prices.

Millions of dollars were deposited into secret slush funds, which the executives would then dish out to the politicians and parties that allowed the deals to take place.

Effectively, tax-payers and shareholders were paying for the ruling coalition to stay in power.

And the brazen nature of the corruption was revealed when investigators discovered Lula had been given a beachfront apartment by engineering firm OAS in return for his influence with Petrobras.

Petrobras also offered Lula’s political allies executive roles at the company to strengthen its position in Congress.

Lula claims the investigation and trial were politically motivated to prevent him from running for the presidency again.

The founding member of the Workers’ Party stepped down in 2011 after a two-term reign that was widely lauded at the time.