Just one day after receiving a jail sentence of almost a decade, ex-president Lula has announced that he still intends to run in 2018. Yesterday, Judge Sergio Moro condemned Lula to nine years and six months in prison, on charges of passive corruption and money laundering. It is the first time in Brazil’s history that a president has been convicted for a common crime.
Today at midday, the former Brazilian President used his first public statement to declare his innocence. But he also used the opportunity to state his intention of running in the 2018 presidential race.
“If someone has proof against me, please, say it,” he said. “Send it to the courts, send it to the Supreme Court, send it to the press. I would be happier if I were convicted on the evidence.”
Lula denounces Judge Moro
Lula stated at several points in his speech that he does not believe the investigation’s evidence against him is proof of his guilt.
“The Court cannot lie, it cannot make political decisions, it has to make decisions based on the records. […] The only proof is of my innocence,” he said.
The former president criticized Moro’s decision, implying that it had a “very strong political component”. During his speech, he said that his conviction was further evidence of a coup against the PT.
“If Lula could be a candidate, the coup would not have been completed,” said Lula. “Because what is the logic of taking out this government and, two years later, Lula to come back as candidate?”
Judge Moro’s ruling for Lula’s case alone in Operation Car Wash comes to a total of 218 pages. This includes arguments from Lula’ defense team, as well as testimonials. There is also evidence in the form of documents, emails, photos, images and phone messages.
Lula remains the target of two other Operation Car Wash inquiries. He is also under investigation for forming a criminal organization to defraud Petrobras, and for obstruction of justice when taking officer as Dilma Rousseff’s minister.
While his court appeal holds, Lula remains able to run for President in next year’s elections. He will appeal the sentence, with courts expecting to announce a new decision between April and September next year.
Lula will remain free until the new decision, upholding or contradicting Moro’s sentence, is announced. In the meantime, recent polls indicate that he is by far the most popular prospective candidate for the October 2018 presidential race.
“If anyone thinks that, with this sentence, they were taking me out of the game, they can know that I am in the game,” he said during his speech. “I want to say on my behalf that until now I hadn’t claimed it, but now I am going to claim myself as a potential candidate for President of the Republic.”
The former president said that he would fight against the courts to prove his innocence first. He would next then compete within his party, the Workers Party (PT) for candidacy, and then run for office.