Brazil ex-president finally jailed
Leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva spent yesterday as Brazil’s first ex-president to be imprisoned for a common crime — and his cell was in the headquarters of the giant anti-graft probe body that brought him down.
The first day of Lula’s 12-year sentence marked the downfall of once one of the world’s most popular politicians.
Although Brazilian presidents of recent history have routinely ended up in trouble – impeached, brought down by a coup and even one suicide – Lula is the first to have been convicted of corruption and locked up.
His new home is a roughly 15m² cell in the federal police headquarters in Curitiba, the southern city where the “Car Wash” probe is based.
Named after a service station where agents initially uncovered a relatively small money laundering operation, “Car Wash” has turned into one of the world’s biggest ever examples of such a probe, netting scores of top politicians, some of Brazil’s richest businessmen, and sending shock waves through Latin America.
Lula was found guilty last year of taking a luxury apartment as a bribe from a construction company and is “Car Wash’s” biggest scalp – though he says the conviction was rigged.
Despite the scandal, supporters cried openly at the exit of a man they remember for removing tens of millions of people from poverty and for connecting with voters in a way few, if any, other modern Brazilian politicians have managed.