“This trial is illegitimate, it is a masquerade,” insisted Wednesday in Curitiba (south) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva during a hearing of nearly five hours before a judge anti-corruption, determining the political future of the former President of Brazil.
Lula, 71 years will not be fixed on his fate before several weeks.
Wearing a necktie in the colors of Brazil, he was at the helm to defend himself from accusations that he had received a triplex apartment in a seaside resort as a bribe.
An important security device had been deployed for this audience to the considerable stakes, in a trial that could bury the ambitions of a return to power of the one who presided over Brazil from 2003 to 2010.
“I have never solicited and never received the least apartment,” said the former metalworking worker during the interrogation, according to the images broadcast by the Brazilian justice. “I am here in respect of the Law, our Constitution, but I consider that this trial is illegitimate and I denounce a masquerade”.
“It’s perfect,” replied Judge Sergio Moro, “but it’s an opportunity for you to defend yourself and clarify these issues.”
Judge Moro, 44, is in charge of Operation “Lavage-express”, which revealed a vast network of corruption orchestrated by construction companies to systematically fake public contracts, notably those of Petrobras state oil giant.
According to the prosecutors, Lula would have benefited from largesse to the amount of 3.7 million reais (1.06 million euros) from OAS, a construction company involved in this scandal.
“I do not want to be judged on interpretations but on evidence. They have not presented any document that proves that the apartment belongs to me,” Lula said a few minutes after the hearing, in a speech Before several thousand militants and alongside the deputy Dilma Rousseff, who had succeeded him at the head of the State before being dismissed last year.
During the interrogation, he admitted to visiting the apartment with an OAS representative but asserted that neither he nor his wife wished to buy it, notably because of “many defects” of manufacture.
The indictment says, however, that Lula has benefited from OAS ‘largesse from purchasing, customizing and decorating a triplex in the seaside resort of Guaruja de Guaruja (State of Sao Paulo, South East).
In total, five court proceedings are involved, and the triplex charges are only one part of the investigation.
The verdict is not expected for several weeks. If convicted and the decision confirmed on appeal, Lula incurs a prison sentence and can not stand for the 2018 presidential election.
Despite business, it is largely in the lead of voting intentions, although also generating a high level of rejection.
“I believe that he is innocent, and if they had concrete evidence, they would have already arrested him.” This trial is a class struggle, says Gérson Castellano, an oil trade unionist.
“In the history of Brazil, no one has ever been so massacred. Without your support, I would never have endured everything they have done with me,” Lula told his activists, saying he was a victim of violence. Judicial fury.
Waving red flags bearing the effigy of the Workers’ Party (PT), a party founded by Lula in 1980, the activists were parked in the Boca Maldita (Cursed Mouth in Portuguese) neighborhood near the historic center about five Kilometers from the courthouse.
To avoid any incident, the anti-Lula camp was gathered in another district of Curitiba, located about two kilometers away.
A few dozen people were demonstrating, mostly dressed in Brazilian national team jerseys, behind a large inflatable doll representing Lula in prisoner uniform.
“This is an important day because an ex-president has been called here because he is charged, he has not been invited, honest people have to come forward,” said retired teacher Marli Resende Of 59 years.
Conservative president Michel Temer did not comment directly on the issue but deplored Wednesday the fact that the country is in a state of “permanent conflict between Brazilians”, while the government tries to pass unpopular reforms to pull out the Countries of a historic recession.
“We need to eliminate this rage. We need peace and tranquility so that nothing prevents Brazil from continuing to work,” the head of state said at an official ceremony.