Lula cries foul over fresh corruption charges

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By Tokunbo Salako  with REUTERS
Lula cries foul over fresh corruption charges

Brazil’s ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has appeared in court to answer fresh corruption charges.

It’s his second deposition in two weeks and comes shortly after his former finance minister Antonio Palocci reportedly told prosecutors that Lula took bribes from Brazilian construction firm, Odebrecht.

Lawyers for Palocci said he told prosecutors that Lula accepted Odebrecht’s purchase of land for an institute in his name, a country house in Sao Paulo state and 300 million reais ($97 million) to be used after he left office.

A representative for Lula said in a statement that Palocci, who was arrested a year ago in a corruption investigation, was lying and making accusations without evidence to secure a favourable deal with prosecutors to reduce his sentence.

Lula faces four other corruption trials but remains Brazil’s most popular politician. He is also appealing a corruption conviction that would bar him from running for president in 2018.

His appearance in court came on a day dubbed “Super Wednesday” by local media because of a dizzying array of graft scandals that have implicated top politicians. The marqee event of the day was the arrest of
Wesley Batista, the chief executive of JBS SA, the world’s No. 1 meatpacker. He’s accused of insider trading and faces being the first person in the country to be jailed for such a crime.