Former Brazilian leader, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was convicted on corruption charges on Wednesday in the first of five graft trials he faces. The two-term president was sentenced to nine and half years in prison but would remain free on appeal.
The ruling marked a stunning fall for Lula, Brazil’s first working-class president who left office six years ago with an 83 per cent approval rating. The former union leader won global admiration for transformative social policies that helped reduce stinging inequality in Latin America’s biggest country. Former U.S. President Barack Obama once labeled him the most popular politician on earth. The verdict represented the highest-profile conviction yet in the sweeping corruption investigation that rattled Brazil for over three years. This revealed a sprawling system of graft at top levels of business and government and threw the country’s political system into disarray. Judge Sergio Moro found Lula guilty of accepting 1.2 million dollars (3.7 million reais) worth of bribes from engineering firm OAS SA. The amount prosecutors said the company spent refurbishing a beach apartment for Lula in return for his help winning contracts with state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro.