BRASILIA – Judge Sergio Moro rejected the first appeal filed by defense attorneys representing former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the prison sentence handed down to him in a corruption case, judicial officials said Tuesday.
Defense attorneys had asked that different “omissions” in the initial proceedings be corrected.
The man who governed Brazil from 2003-2011 was sentenced on July 12 to nine years and six months in prison in connection with the massive corruption scandal centered on state oil company Petrobras.
The charges rested on the claim that Lula was the real owner of a beachfront triplex near Sao Paulo registered in the name of OAS, one of the engineering companies implicated in bribing Petrobras executives to secure inflated contracts and diverting some of the extra money to politicians who provided cover for the graft.
Lula allegedly accepted renovations to the luxury apartment as a reward for giving OAS the inside track on government contracts.
Defense attorneys contend there are documents that were submitted to the court and not given weight by Moro, such as statements from witnesses proving that OAS remains the luxury apartment’s real owner.
The judge found Lula guilty of having accepted services valued at 3.7 million reais ($1.1 million) from OAS, a construction company that benefited from contracts with Petrobras.
Moro said there were no omissions or contradictions in his ruling, which will be reviewed by a higher court.
The judge said defense attorneys had failed to clarify which documents or contracts were not considered in the initial decision that led to the former president’s conviction.
Lula denies that he ever owned the apartment, much less benefited from improvements to the property, and has been making his case on an almost daily basis, telling the Sao Paulo daily Capital on Tuesday that Moro was “mistaken.”
The 71-year-old Lula is the first former president to be convicted in a court of law in Brazil.
The conviction, however, did not stop Brazil’s most popular politician from throwing his hat into the ring for next year’s presidential contest.
Though he still faces several other corruption trials, Lula will remain eligible to run for president next year until and unless a conviction is upheld on appeal. A final decision on the conviction handed down last week is unlikely before mid-2018 at the earliest.