RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has rejected the prison leave granted to him Wednesday to meet with his family following his brother’s funeral, leaders of the Workers’ Party (PT) he co-founded said.
The 73-year-old Lula, who on Tuesday was denied permission to attend the burial of his older brother – Genival Inacio da Silva, known as Vava – could have met with his relatives at a military base in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo.
But the ex-president, who governed from 2003 to 2010, opted to remain at his cell at the Federal Police headquarters in the southern city of Curitiba and receive a visit from his family on Thursday, the PT said.
“Lula has no reason to meet secretly with his family, as if this were a favor of the Attorney General’s Office and the courts,” PT lawmaker Paulo Pimenta was quoted as saying on that opposition party’s Twitter account.
Pimenta said Lula regards the courts’ decision as a continuation of his political persecution.
Lula believes the decision was made by Justice and Public Security Minister Sergio Moro, who as a federal judge initially convicted him in 2017 of charges of accepting bribes from a construction company in the form of renovations to a seaside condo that the former president never owned or occupied.
The conviction was upheld on appeal and the prison sentence was lengthened from nine years and six months to more than 12 years.
Lula has been behind bars since last April, which led to his being barred from the presidential election amid polls showing that he would have won by a wide margin.
The case against Lula, who denies any wrongdoing, was based largely on plea-bargained testimony from people already convicted of corruption offenses.
That case (Lula still faces other graft trials) was one of many stemming from the massive Car Wash investigation, which was initially centered on Brazilian state oil company Petrobras.
“Tomorrow will be a visitation day, and the family will be with the president. But what Lula wanted and we wanted was for him to see his brother for the last time,” said the PT’s chairwoman, Gleisi Hoffmann.
“They didn’t let him bid farewell to Vava out of pure malice,” she added.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Jose Antonio Dias Toffoli granted Lula’s temporary leave authorization after two lower courts had denied him permission to attend his brother’s funeral.
The petition by Lula’s lawyers was denied after the Federal Police argued that transferring him to the funeral site in the southeastern city of Sao Bernardo do Campo and ensuring his security there would cause logistical problems.
Vava, who the PT says was a “father figure” to Lula, died at the age of 79 after battling a rare form of cancer affecting his blood vessels.