SAO PAULO – Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva received on Thursday his first family visit since starting his 12-year prison term at the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba, authorities said.
He had only been able to meet with his attorneys since being transferred to the lockup in that southern city on Saturday night from Sao Paulo.
Gleisy Hoffman, the chair of Lula’s Workers Party (PT), said Wednesday that the ex-president’s visitation rights were being illegally restricted.
Lula, who is being held at a specially prepared, 15-square-meter (161-square-foot) cell, was visited Thursday by some of his children and grandchildren, Federal Police spokespersons said.
Cristiano Zanin Martins – an attorney for the former head of state, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011 and remains Brazil’s most popular politician – accompanied the other visitors.
Inmates at the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba typically are only allowed family visits on Wednesdays, but authorities decided to move the visit to Thursday for security reasons, the spokespersons said.
Lula entered prison late Saturday in compliance with a judicial decree issued by crusading federal Judge Sergio Moro, who last year handed down the original corruption conviction against the ex-president.
Since then, the Military Police has set up a security cordon around the police headquarters and is tightly restricting access to the facility.
More than 500 supporters of the ex-president are camping out near the police building and say they will stay there until he is released from custody.
In July 2017, Moro found Lula guilty of accepting bribes in exchange for helping Brazilian construction company OAS obtain lucrative contracts from state oil company Petrobras and sentenced him to nine years and six months in prison.
On Jan. 24, an appeals court in the southern city of Porto Alegre voted unanimously to uphold that earlier verdict and increase Lula’s prison sentence to 12 years and one month.
That same court on March 26 rejected Lula’s appeal of its own earlier decision.
The case against Lula, who denies any wrongdoing, is based largely on plea-bargained testimony from people already convicted as part of the sprawling investigation into the $2 billion Petrobras scandal.
Lula leads in the polls ahead of the October presidential election and the PT says he remains their presidential candidate.
A 2010 Brazilian law signed by Lula states that a defendant whose conviction has been upheld on appeal is barred from competing for public office for eight years.
But Lula, who is expected to register as a presidential candidate on Aug. 15, could ask the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to make an exception in his case.
Lula also faces six other pending trials, most for alleged corruption. He also vehemently denies any wrongdoing in those other cases.