RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian judge authorized former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to leave the prison where he is serving a sentence for corruption to attend the funeral of his 7-year-old grandson, who died Friday of a meningitis infection.
Judge Carolina Lebbos said in a brief statement that the details of Lula’s travel arrangements would be kept confidential “to preserve the family’s privacy and to guarantee not only the physical integrity of the prisoner, but public safety as well.”
The former president is being held in Curitiba, capital of the southern state of Parana.
State Gov. Ratinho Junior confirmed that at the request of federal authorities, his administration would provide an aircraft to transport Lula to Sao Paulo for the funeral.
The body of Arthur Araujo Lula da Silva, one of six grandchildren of the former president, is to be cremated at mid-day Saturday.
The ceremony will take place in Sao Bernardo do Campo, an industrial suburb of Sao Paulo, at the same cemetery where Lula’s late wife, Marisa Leticia Rocco, was laid to rest after her death in February 2017.
Lula’s center-left Workers Party said earlier Friday that the former head of state’s attorneys would seek permission for him to attend Arthur’s funeral.
The youngster’s death comes a little more than month after that of Lula’s older brother, Genival Inacio da Silva, known as Vava, at the age of 79 after a long battle with a rare form of cancer.
Lula, 73, asked to be allowed to attend Vava’s funeral, but was turned down after the Federal Police argued that transporting him to the funeral site in Sao Bernardo do Campo and ensuring his security there would cause logistical problems.
Following Vava’s funeral, Lula was offered a furlough to meet with his family at a military base in Sao Paulo state.
But the ex-president, who governed from 2003 to 2011, opted to remain at his cell at the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba and receive a visit from his family there.
Lula said he believed the decision to keep him from Vava’s funeral was made by Justice and Public Security Minister Sergio Moro, who as a federal judge convicted him in 2017 of charges of accepting bribes from a construction company in the form of renovations to a seaside condo that the former president never owned or occupied.
The conviction was upheld on appeal and the prison sentence was lengthened from nine years and six months to more than 12 years.
Lula has been behind bars since last April, which led to his being barred from the 2018 presidential election amid polls showing that he would have won by a wide margin.
With Lula excluded from the contest, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency and went on to offer Moro a Cabinet post.
The case against Lula, who denies any wrongdoing, was based largely on plea-bargained testimony from people already convicted of corruption offenses.