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Brazil's Lula defies court deadline

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Brazil's Lula defies court deadline

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REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto
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Brazil's former President Lula da Silva still remains holded up in a union building in metropolitan Sao Paulo hours after defying a court deadline to surrender to police.

Waving to thousands of fervent supporters from a window of the headquarters of the steelworkers union, the 72-year-old had been due to begin a 12-year jail term for corruption after a judge ordered him to turn himself in.

Lula's lawyers are trying to keep him out of prison, claiming the charges are illegal and unconstitutional.

For the moment, police have refused to say whether they will try to forcibly take Lula into custody, a move which could trigger clashes with his supporters.

The conviction against Lula stems from an anti-corruption investigation which has engulfed dozens of top politicians from several parties in Brazil.

On Friday, Lula's legal team filed a late petition with Brazil's Supreme Court in a bid to quash the prison order, after losing a last-minute plea to an appeals court. The former leader's lawyers say they have not exhausted procedural appeals and have said the case is an effort to remove Lula from a presidential race he is leading.