São Paulo prosecutors want former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to be held in preventive detention in connection with criminal charges filed against him on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said the former Workers’ Party (PT) leader is a flight risk and that he could place obstacles in the way of the investigation into allegations of money laundering and misrepresentation of assets.
The PT president, Rui Falcão, on Thursday called the request for preventive detention “a media stunt.”
Workers’ Party president Rui Falcão called the request for preventive detention “a media stunt”
“It follows the line of what this prosecutor and his colleagues are doing: denouncing president Lula without proof,” he said.
But prosecutors argue that they fear the ex-leader will mobilize his “violent support network” and intimidate witnesses involved in the corruption probe.
The prosecution has also attacked current president Dilma Rousseff, another PT member, for trying to protect Lula, “turning him into a citizen above the law.”
Rumors abound that Rousseff is allegedly planning to offer her political mentor a government position. This would grant him special legal protection meaning he could only be tried by the Federal Supreme Court, not by the lower courts, which would save him from the ongoing probe.
In the event of a trial and an adverse conviction, Lula da Silva could face a 13-year prison term
But part of public opinion would view this move as a confession of guilt by Lula, who is accused of secretly owning a luxury apartment on the coast that is named in Operation Lava Jato, a major investigation into corruption at state oil company Petrobras.
A judge must now decide whether to accept the preventive detention request or not. In the event of a trial and an adverse conviction, Lula da Silva could face a 13-year prison term.
English version by Susana Urra.