Brazil prosecutors seek Lula arrest

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Photo: 4 March 2016Image copyright

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Mr Lula says the accusations against him are politically motivated

Brazilian prosecutors have requested the arrest of ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a money laundering inquiry.

Prosecutors in Sao Paulo state said Mr Lula should be placed in “preventive custody”.

They earlier filed charges accusing him of failing to declare ownership of a luxury sea-front penthouse in the seaside resort of Guaruja.

Mr Lula denies any wrongdoing and says the claims are politically motivated.

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The probe centres on a luxury penthouse (centre) in the resort of Guaruja

The prosecutors said their arrest request was based on an assumption that Mr Lula might try to obstruct the investigation about his ownership of his penthouse.

The request still has to be accepted or rejected by a judge.

The prosecutors say one of the country’s biggest construction firms, OAS, carried out extensive refurbishment on the penthouse.

Officially the apartment belongs to OAS, which is under investigation. It has been accused of paying bribes to politicians and senior officials at state oil company Petrobras to secure lucrative contracts.

Lula, 70, denies all accusations and says he never owned the apartment.

His lawyer Cristiano Zanin Martins has said he was not given official access to the accusations against the former leader.

“This action confirms the bias [against Lula] in this whole process,” Mr Martins said.

Last week, the former president was briefly detained for questioning.

This led to criticism not only from his supporters but also from judges and politicians, who said the measure was unnecessary.

Mr Lula’s supporters say the attacks on him are aimed at tarnishing his reputation, amid rumours that he may run for office again in 2018.

Mr Lula was Brazil’s left-leaning president from 2003 to 2011 and was succeeded in office by his political protege, Dilma Rousseff, who has record-low approval rates amid a serious economic crisis.

She joined hundreds of people showing support for the former president last Saturday.

Mr Lula, a former factory worker and union leader, remains a very popular figure in Brazil despite the accusations against senior members of his Workers’ Party.

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