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Former Brazilian President Lula convicted in second corruption case

Former Brazilian President Lula convicted in second corruption case
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva looks on before speaking to supporters in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, on April 7, 2018. (Andre Penner / Associated Press)

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was convicted Wednesday for a second time on charges of corruption and money laundering and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Judge Gabriela Hardt said she agreed with prosecutors that a country house was renovated for Lula by construction companies involved in the mammoth corruption scandal centered on Brazil's state-run oil company, Petrobras.

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In April, Lula began serving a sentence of 12 years and 11 months after being convicted on the same charges involving renovations at a beachfront apartment also allegedly paid for by construction companies.

Prosecutors argued that both cases involved the companies giving benefits to Lula in return for political favors.

Lula has denied guilt in both cases and is expected to appeal the latest sentence, as he did the first.

Lula was convicted in 2017 of accepting $1.2 million in bribes from contractor OAS in exchange for contracts with Petrobras, money that prosecutors say was used to buy and renovate a penthouse apartment in the seaside town of Guaruja.

In April 2018, Lula at first ignored an order to turn himself in to authorities and instead spent two nights in the steelworkers union where he got his start in politics, meeting with his lawyers, political allies and supporters.

In a speech before eventually turning himself in, he maintained his innocence and argued that his conviction was just a way for his opponents to keep him off the ballot for October's presidential election.

The former steelworker and union leader had left office in 2010 with an 87% approval rating after dramatically reducing the poverty rate.

In August last year, his Workers’ Party announced he was running for president from jail, and he became the front-runner, reflecting widespread loyalty for his efforts on behalf of the poor.

But Brazil’s top electoral court ruled the conviction made Lula ineligible to run.

In October, Brazil elected far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency.

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