Finance

Brazil's ex-leader Silva faces corruption judge for 1st time

Brazil's ex-leader Silva faces corruption judge for 1st time

Lula is accused of receiving a beach apartment in return for helping the OAS construction firm win government contracts, and of hiding his ownership of it.

According to press releases, an over 400-heavily armed military and federal police contingent and supported by police mobile units have been cordoning off since Wednesday morning the Federal Justice Court´s main entrance where Lula will testify for the first time to Judge Sergio Moro, who is in charge of the Lava Jato anti-corruption operation.

Known throughout Brazil simply as Lula, he was Brazil's most popular president during his tenure from 2003 to 2010.

The fiery, bearded orator who rose from great hardship to found the Workers' Party and lead Brazil, is already one of the most famous people in the country.

Globo News shows images of Silva's chartered plane landing Wednesday in the southern city of Curitiba.

While Lula's allies are calling for tens of thousands of partisans to convene in Curitiba, Moro posted a Facebook video discouraging a rival march by supporters of the investigation.

"I thought after. there would at least be a document that the apartment was mine", he told them.

"I want to ask my accusers to take into the account that you are very young, you have a long road before yourselves", Silva said during his testimony, a direct critique of the young team of investigators leading the probe.

A verdict is not expected for weeks, but if Lula were found guilty, and then lost an appeal, he would be barred from seeking office, likely including running for re-election in 2018. "I am preparing to return as a candidate", he said.

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"I want to show that the elite is not competent to fix this country but that the steel worker. will manage".

In video of the hearing that was broadcast afterward on Brazilian national television, Lula, seated at a table with lawyers and prosecutors, said he had nothing to do with it.

A small group of supporters of the Car Wash investigation gathered in a different area of Curitiba.

Hashtags in support of both Lula and Moro have been trending heavily in Brazil.

But now facing a total of five corruption trials, he is fighting for his future.

According to federal prosecutors, and based on testimonies received from former Petrobras executives, millions in bribes were allegedly funneled into the campaign coffers of Lula's Workers Party.

This gives a taste of the huge expectations surrounding Lula's testimony before Judge Moro. However, he underlined in court that he had never wanted nor had he owned the apartment.

Prosecutors have painted Lula as a kingpin over the wider Petrobras corruption scheme. He also stressed that Lula did not face imminent arrest. It promises to be the most dramatic political moment in Brazil since the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff last August.

President Michel Temer, a hugely unpopular figure who took over when Lula's successor Dilma Rousseff was impeached and removed from the presidency previous year, appealed for calm.


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