(AFP) Former Brazil president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was convicted and sentenced on Wednesday to nine and a half years in prison for corruption and money laundering.
The term was handed down against Lula over a giant embezzlement and kickbacks scheme centered on state-owned oil group Petrobras, at the heart of a sprawling corruption probe known as “Car Wash.”
The judge hearing the case said Lula — an iconic leftist politician who ruled Brazil from 2003-2010 — remained free pending a possible appeal, according to the verdict seen by AFP.
With Brazil in the grip of prolonged political and economic uncertainty, the sentence risked scuttling a potential comeback bid by Lula in the next elections due in October 2018.
The ruling against Lula, 71, “all but rules him out of the running for next year’s presidential election, and is likely to give a near-term boost to Brazilian markets,” said Capital Economics, an economic analysis firm.
However, it and other observers noted that Brazil’s justice system could yet end up overturning the conviction against Lula, although the courts often move at a snail’s pace.