July 12 (UPI) — A federal judge in Brazil on Wednesday sentenced former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to nine years and six months in prison on graft and money laundering charges.
Lula, president from 2003 until the end of 2010, was found guilty in federal court in the first of five graft trials — all centered on a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal in Brazil.
The 71-year-old former president had faced charges that he illegally received about $1.1 million from a construction company in improvements and expenses for a beachfront apartment. Prosecutors said the company then received public contracts from a state-owned oil corporation.
Lula, who had planned to again seek the presidency in next year’s election, has said accusations of his involvement are a “farce”. He left office with a record-high approval rating of 83 percent but would be ineligible to run again if his conviction holds up on appeal.
The nation’s senate impeached the following president, Dilma Rousseff, last year. Lula chose Rousseff as his successor and both politicians are members of the leftist Workers’ Party.
The current president, Michel Temer, was formally accused on June 26 of corruption, in connection with a scheme involving the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS. Temer became president last August and had served as vice president since 2011.
Lula faces four other trials relating to alleged corruption.
The judge handling Lula’s case didn’t call for the former president’s detention following the decision.