In Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was convicted on corruption charges Wednesday and sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison. He will remain free on appeal. Lula was the front-runner in the 2018 elections and is widely considered one of Brazil’s most popular political figures. The sentencing of Lula comes a year after his successor, President Dilma Rousseff, also of the Workers’ Party, was impeached by the Brazilian Senate in a move she has denounced as a coup. Lula has been accused of masterminding a corruption scheme at the state-run oil company Petrobras. Prosecutors allege Latin America’s biggest construction firm spent about $1.1 million refurbishing a beachside apartment for Lula and his wife in exchange for public contracts. A top ally of Lula, Paulo Okamotto, denounced the charges on Wednesday.
Paulo Okamotto: “Lula is innocent. He is not the owner of that residence. He never asked for that residence. He never lived in that residence. He never frequented that residence. It really is a case of great injustice.”