ADDS LULA'S REMARKS
By Muhammed Emin Canik
BUENOS AIRES (AA) – Brazil accepted former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s request for immediate release, according to the country’s top court Friday.
Danilo Pereira Jr, a judge at the Curitiba Federal Criminal Court, accepted Lula’s request who was accused of money laundering and corruption.
“They did not imprison a man. They tried to kill an idea,” Lula said in a speech to a crowd outside the federal police headquarters in Curitiba, where he has been imprisoned for 580 days.
“Brazil did not improve, Brazil got worse,” he said in criticizing the government.
He vowed to continue fighting for ordinary Brazilians.
Lula submitted a request for immediate release after meeting him Friday, according to Caracas-based TV channel TeleSur.
On the same day, the Supreme Court decided to end mandatory imprisonment for convicted criminals after they lose their first appeal, which led to the release of dozens of high-profile convicts, including Lula.
The iconic leader of the Worker's Party was serving a 12-year sentence since 2018 on corruption charges in which executives of the state-run Petrobas oil company are accused of accepting bribes in exchange for construction contracts.
Lula, who ruled Brazil in 2003-2010, was set to confront current President Jair Bolsonaro in an election last year but was blocked by then-judge Sergio Moro who is now justice minister in the Bolsonaro government.
Lula, 74, was leading opinion polls in the run-up to the election, according to media reports.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar