Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, the hugely popular former president of Brazil who has been ordered to begin serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption, said Saturday he would surrender to Brazilian authorities.
“There is no use in trying to stop me,” Lula wrote on Twitter. “I’ll come out of this bigger, stronger, more truthful and innocent.”
A judge had ordered Lula to turn himself in by 4 p.m. ET Friday in the city of Curitiba. Instead, Lula decamped to the headquarters of a metalworkers union in his hometown outside of São Paolo, several hundred miles away.
Lula spent Friday night and the beginning of Saturday holed up the union building. He briefly went outside Saturday morning to attend a mass commemorating his late wife’s 68th birthday. Speaking with Weekend Edition, NPR’s Philip Reeves described it as both a religious and a political event. Lula climbed on top of a bus and signaled to supporters, many of whom chanted, “Resist!” or “Don’t turn yourself in.”
It’s the latest turn in a political drama riveting Brazil in the months before it holds presidential elections, pitting a hugely popular former president against a celebrity judge known for prosecuting powerful politicians and business executives.
Massive crowds of supporters have held vigil outside of the building, chanting and waving flags. Lula tweeted support for them during his time at the union headquarters building.
“We will remain here the time that is required,” one supporter, Sueli Silva, told Philip. “We won’t leave.”
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SOURCE: NPR, Jacob Pinter