Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been given a second prison term for a new corruption charge, meaning he’ll spend the next 25 years in jail.
Yesterday a court found him guilty of accepting $270,000 worth of renovations to a farm house in return for ensuring the two construction firms won contracts with state oil company, Petrobras.
The sentence handed down in the southern city of Curitiba is for 12 years and 11 months, the AFP news agency reports.
Lula, as he is known, is already serving a 12-year sentence after being convicted of receiving a renovated beachfront apartment worth approximately $1m in a similar deal with construction firm OAS, in April last year.
He has denied all charges, insisting they are politically motivated and designed to prevent him from running in the 2018 presidential elections, which saw Jair Bolsonaro elected.
In the latest case Lula argued that the farmhouse in question did not even belong to him, but rather to a friend.
But the judge, Gabriela Hardt, rejected that argument, saying “the family of ex-president Lula very often frequented the farm as if he was the owner.”
“The accused received these unjustified benefits because of his position as president of the republic, of whom exemplary behaviour is demanded,” she said, according to AFP.
According to the BBC, his lawyers said he would appeal against the new conviction, which, together with the former one, sees the ex-president in jail for nearly 25 years.
“The persecution of Lula continues,” tweeted Gleisi Hoffmann, head of Lula’s left-wing Worker’s Party (PT).
Lula is the highest-profile politician to be prosecuted under Brazil’s vast “Lava Jato” (“Car Wash”) corruption probe, which has led to the imprisonment of dozens of officials and executives, including senior politicians.
The probe revealed that construction companies formed a cartel in 2003 to overcharge Petrobras for building contracts, and then paid some of the illicit cash to Petrobras executives and politicians from several parties.
Judge Hardt has taken over Lava Jato investigations from former judge Sergio Moro, who was appointed justice minister by the President Bolsonaro.