Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known throughout Brazil as Lula, underwent five hours of questioning before Judge Sergio Moro, Brazil’s top anti-corruption official. Lula vehemently denied allegations he received a seaside apartment as a bribe in the complex headline-making, regime-toppling corruption scandal linked to the state oil company, Petrobras.
The Curitiba court session was closed to the public, but supporters of the immensely popular former president gathered in a nearby square to show support, while others rallied elsewhere in Curitiba and in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia. The questioning pertained to the first of five charges against Lula, who faces prison if convicted. If cleared, Lula—a former steel working and union leader who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010 — has pledged to once again run for president.
Lula claimed he neither wanted nor ever owned the apartment in question, and blasted the allegations against him as a farce. He drew short of criticizing the broader probe into the now infamous Operação Lava Jato, or “operation car wash,” which involved companies overcharging Petrobas and then channeling excess profits to politicians. Judge Moro has spearheaded that effort, which began three years ago and has resulted in charges against 179 individuals, many of them high-profile politicians.
Although Lula continues to draw crowds of supporters, and in fact attended a campaign-style rally after the hearing, many Brazilians have applauded Judge Moro for his tireless pursuit of politicians, businessmen, and other prominent figures allegedly involved in the scandal.
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