Former Brazilian president convicted of corruption

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sentenced to nine and a half years in prison after judge finds him guilty of corruption

Lula faces five different corruption trials
Lula faces five different corruption trials

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been convicted of corruption and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison.

On Wednesday, a judge found Lula guilty of accepting bribes from engineering firm OAS in the form of a beachfront apartment in return for his help in winning contracts with the state oil company. He ruled that the former president could remain free pending an appeal.

Lula has rejected the claims of bribery and insisted that the trial is politically motivated.

In a statement, Lula's lawyers insisted he was innocent and said they would appeal.

"For more than three years Lula has been subject to a politically motivated investigation. No credible evidence of guilt has been produced, and overwhelming proof of his innocence blatantly ignored," they wrote.

The head of the Workers' Party, Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, also hit out at the ruling, saying it was designed to stop Lula running for office again in next year’s elections and that the party would protest against the decision.

The charges Lula faces relate to the “Car Wash” scandal, the nickname for Brazil's largest ever corruption probe.

Operation Car Wash was launched three years ago to investigate firms that were allegedly offered deals with state oil company Petrobras in exchange for bribes, which were funnelled into politicians' pockets and party slush funds.

Lula, a former steel worker turned union leader, came to office in 2003 – Brazil’s first left-wing leader in Brazil in nearly half a century – and remained in his post until 2011.

During his tenure, he was Brazil's most popular president, and indeed US President Barack Obama labelled him the most popular politician on Earth.

Unable to stand for a third consecutive term, he was succeeded by his close ally Dilma Rousseff, who was later impeached.

Current President Michel Temer also faces corruption allegations and is resisting calls for him to step down.

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