Brazil's defiant Lula expected to surrender to police Saturday
07 April, 2018, 14:39 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
Lula remained holed up inside the headquarters of a steelworkers union in metropolitan Sao Paulo with aides and allies after the federal judge's deadline of 5pm (2000 GMT) to surrender to authorities.
Workers' Party leaders promised demonstrations, including vigils that would be organized nationwide beginning Friday.
On Thursday, a federal judge ordered Lula da Silva's arrest after the country's Supreme Court ruled that he must start serving the 12 years.
The same steelworkers union in Sao Paulo's industrial suburbs where 72-year-old Mr Lula sought refuge served as the launch pad for his political career almost four decades ago, when he led nationwide strikes that helped to end Brazil's 1964-85 military government. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share internal deliberations being discussed.
Forcing da Silva out of the union building on a Friday night would be a logistical nightmare given the thousands of supporters outside and heavy Friday traffic in Sao Paulo.
"The intention is not to force compliance at any cost, but rather follow the order the best way possible, with tranquility and without a media show", president of federal police Luis Antonio Boudens said in a statement. Early Friday, da Silva waved to supporters from a window at the union but did not speak.
Anna Julia Menezes Rodrigues, a specialist in criminal law at Braga Nascimento e Zilio, said da Silva's defiance did not turn him into a fugitive. "As this did not happen, the arrest warrant will now be carried out".
After almost 11 hours of often heated debate, the justices of the Supreme Federal Tribunal voted 6-5 to deny da Silva's preventative habeas corpus request to stave off a 12-year jail sentence while he fights a conviction in a case that he argues was nothing more than a ploy to keep him off of October's presidential ballot.
He says he is being persecuted so that he won't be able to run for president in October.
The conviction of Lula, who served as president between 2003-2010, sent a chilling message to the country's deeply corrupt political elite.
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An arrest warrant required Lula da Silva, 72, to surrender to police by 5 p.m. local time in the southern city of Curitiba.
On Friday morning, Brazil's daily newspaper Folha de São Paulo reported that Lula would not hand himself in.
Some Brazilians relished the imminent arrest of da Silva, seeing it as a measure of justice in a country where powerful politicians have stolen with impunity for years. Gleisi Hoffman told reporters in Sao Bernardo. However, da Silva could appeal such a decision, though doing so from jail would be more complicated. Lula, who left the presidency in 2011 with soaring approval ratings, has been attempting to stage a political comeback and secure another term in office.
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