BRASÍLIA – Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva must stand trial for corruption, a judge ruled on Tuesday, after prosecutors accused the popular leftist of masterminding the large-scale plundering of state oil company Petrobras.
The crusading judge behind the Petrobras investigation, Sergio Moro, accepted charges filed last week by prosecutors investigating Lula – making him the highest-profile figure to face trial in a case that has taken down some of the country’s most powerful business executives and politicians.
"Given that there is sufficient evidence of (Lula’s) responsibility... I accept the charges," Moro said in his decision.
The charges allege that Lula, 70, received the equivalent of 3.7 million reais ($1.1 million) in bribes.
Among the accusations are charges that the former union leader and his wife received a beachside apartment and upgrades to the property from a major construction company, OAS, which was one of the players in the Petrobras scheme.
More broadly, prosecutors last week singled out Lula – who was president during much of the time that Petrobras was being fleeced of billions of dollar–as the scheme’s "supreme commander".
"I am sad because I just learned (Judge) Moro accepted the charge lodged, even though it is all a farce, a huge lie," the ex-president said from Brazil by videoconference to New York where his lawyers held a solidarity event for him. – AFP