BRASILIA – The Superior Court of Justice (TSJ), Brazil’s highest appeals court for non-constitutional matters, rejected on Wednesday former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s motion to delay his deposition in a corruption case.
Justice Felix Fischer ruled that the request by Lula’s defense team, which was seeking a new period of 90 days to examine the accusations facing the former head of state, was unfounded.
The decision means Lula will be questioned Wednesday in the southern city of Curitiba by crusading federal Judge Sergio Moro, who is heading up the Lava Jato (Car Wash) investigation into a massive pay-to-play scheme centered on Brazilian state oil company Petrobras.
Lula is facing a total of five corruption trials that could derail his plans to seek a third term in office in the October 2018 presidential election as candidate of the center-left Workers Party (PT).
In Wednesday’s hearing, Lula will answer questions in a case involving allegations he concealed his ownership of a beachfront triplex near Sao Paulo.
The property is registered in the name of OAS, one of the engineering companies implicated in a massive scheme to pay bribes to Petrobras executives to secure inflated contracts and divert extra money to politicians who provided cover for the graft.
But the indictment names Lula as its real owner.
Lula, a former labor leader who governed Brazil from the start of 2003 until the end of 2010, allegedly accepted renovations to the luxury apartment as a reward for giving OAS the inside track on government contracts, but the erstwhile president vehemently denies the allegations.
Thousands of Lula supporters and PT leaders and lawmakers also have traveled to Curitiba as a show of support for the prominent politician.
Among those who have made the trip is Lula’s successor as president, Dilma Rousseff, who was removed from office via an impeachment process last year for violating budget laws.
A group of opponents of the former president also are expected to demonstrate in Curitiba, prompting authorities there to bolster security by sending thousands of police onto the streets to prevent clashes between the two sides.