Freed Brazilian ex-president Lula speaks to jubilant supporters

10-11-2019 theguardian.com 4 min #164133

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has addressed thousands of jubilant supporters outside a union headquarters  a day after being released from prison.

Dressed in a black blazer and T-shirt, Lula spoke from a stage outside the union near São Paulo that he once led and that served as the base for his political career. "During 580 days, I prepared myself spiritually, prepared myself to not have hatred, to not have thirst for revenge," he said on Saturday.

"Why did I prepare? Because I wanted to prove that, even though jailed by them, I slept with my conscience much more at ease than theirs."

Thousands of supporters wearing red and waving flags had gathered earlier around a giant figure of the former leader wearing the presidential sash.

Lula was released from prison on Friday after  the supreme court ruled that a person can be imprisoned only after all appeals to higher courts have been exhausted.

He is still appealing against his conviction related to the alleged purchase of a beachfront apartment and remains entangled in other court cases. He was also sentenced by a lower court judge in a case centred on the ownership of a farmhouse in Atibaia, outside São Paulo.

If he loses his appeals in either conviction, he could find himself back in prison.

Supporters cheer Brazil's former president Lula as he is freed from jail - video

Lula has denied any wrongdoing and accused prosecutors and Sérgio Moro, then a judge and now justice minister, of political persecution.

Moro said on Twitter earlier that the supreme court's decision this week should be respected, but that Congress could alter the constitution to change when convicted criminals begin serving their sentences. Lula spoke repeatedly about Moro, at times addressing him directly.

"I could have gone to an embassy, fled to another country," Lula said. "I need to prove that judge Moro wasn't a judge, but rather a scoundrel who was throwing me away."

Earlier on Saturday, Brazil's president  Jair Bolsonaro took a first swipe at Lula on Twitter, after Lula - who was president from 2003 to 2010 - vowed in a video on social media to "help liberate Brazil from the madness that is happening in our country".

Bolsonaro suggested Lula was a "scoundrel" and urged his followers to rally behind the government's rightwing agenda, saying they should not let "the new phase of Brazil's recovery" be derailed.

"Lovers of freedom and good, we are the majority. Without a north star and a directive, even the best troops become a band shooting at all sides, including friends," Bolsonaro wrote. "Do not give ammunition to the scoundrel, who is momentarily free but full of guilt," he added, not referring to Lula by name.

Addressing supporters outside his jail on Friday, Lula vowed to prove his innocence and accused "rotten" police, prosecutors and judges of "working to criminalise the left".

 theguardian.com

 Commenter