Brazil’s former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Saturday he had been falsely accused of corruption but was ready to surrender for arrest.
In his first comments since being ordered to start a 12-year prison sentence for accepting a luxury apartment as a bribe, Lula told cheering supporters that he was “an outraged citizen”.
Lula told the crowd that Brazil’s top anti-corruption judge, Sergio Moro, ‘lied’ about him being given the apartment by a big construction firm as a kickback.
“I am the only human being to be put on trial for an apartment which does not belong to me,” he said.
But Lula, 72, said: “I will comply with their warrant.”
In a passionate, combative, hour-long speech, Lula accused the judiciary and Brazil’s most powerful media conglomerate of assisting a right-wing coup with the ultimate aim of preventing him from competing in this October’s presidential elections.
Despite his legal problems, Lula is the frontrunner in polls.
Lula said he wanted to go to prison and had rejected multiple suggestions of fleeing or seeking asylum abroad.
“I want to face them and look at them in their eyes,” he said of his accusers.
“You’ll see that I will come out of this bigger, stronger,” he said, promising to prove his innocence.
Lula was ordered to surrender to the authorities on Friday, but missed the deadline, staying holed-up with his supporters at the metalworkers’ union building in his hometown Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo.