Brazilian media: Ex-president Lula surrenders

Brazil's ex-president defies order to surrender to federal police

The 72-year-old, who served two terms as head of state between 2003 and 2010, entered prison in the southern city of Curitiba late on Saturday, becoming Brazil's first ex-president to be jailed on a criminal conviction.

The leftist icon, who despite the scandal leads easily in polls ahead of October's presidential election, only surrendered after a lengthy showdown with the authorities in his hometown Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo.

His legal troubles have left Brazil's October presidential race - in which he was the frontrunner - wide open, with analysts saying there is now room for out-of-the-box candidates, including a deeply religious conservative decried by the left for his stance on woman, gays and lesbians.

Lula was found guilty a year ago of taking a luxury apartment as a bribe from a construction company and is "Car Wash's" biggest scalp - though Lula says the conviction was rigged.

But da Silva lost his first appeal of the conviction earlier this year, and on Thursday, a court issued an order for the former president's imprisonment, denying his petition to remain free while he continues to appeal the conviction. Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, who died in February 2017, would have turned 68 on Saturday.

"I'm the only person being prosecuted over an apartment that isn't mine", insisted Lula, standing on a sound truck alongside his impeached handpicked successor Dilma Rousseff and leaders of other left-wing parties.

Renata Swiecik, an unemployed mother of four who had joined the crowd, urged Lula not to hand himself over.

Last year, Moro convicted da Silva of trading favors with a construction company in exchange for the promise of a beachfront apartment. If I didn't believe in the law, I wouldn't have started a political party.

However it happens, the jailing of da Silva will mark a colossal fall from grace for a man who rose to power against steep odds in one of the world's most unequal countries.

"The intention is not to force compliance at any cost, but rather follow the order the best way possible, with tranquility and without a media show", Luis Antonio Boudens, president of the federal police, said in a statement.

He left office with a sky-high approval rate of 83 percent and was once called "the most popular politician on Earth" by former US President Barack Obama.

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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.

With Lula nearly certainly knocked out of the presidential election, the race is likely to be thrown wide open.

The renovation was bankrolled by a company seeking contracts with the state oil giant Petrobras.

He said that Brazil's top anti-corruption judge, Sergio Moro, "lied" about him being given the flat by a big construction firm as a kickback.

"Let Lula stay there for a long time and all his bunch with him".

"I want Lula in prison, I want a better future and with him in the leadership we won't have that", said Maura Moraes de Oliveira, 51, who works as a maid in Curitiba.

Lula accused the judiciary and Brazil's most powerful media conglomerate of assisting a right-wing coup with the ultimate aim of preventing him from competing in the race.

"You'll see that I will come out of this bigger, stronger", he said, promising to prove his innocence.

Today, anyone convicted and losing a first appeal - which is Lula's case - has to conduct any further appeals in prison.

But, crucially, Lula said he would drop his dramatic show of resistance and comply with the arrest warrant.

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