BRASILIA (Reuters) - Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is serving a 12-year prison term for corruption, proclaimed his innocence again on Saturday at the funeral of his 7-year-old grandson, saying he will prove he did no wrong by the time the two meet "in heaven."
According to the former president's press office, Lula's grandson, Arthur, who succumbed to meningitis during the week, was bullied in school after his grandfather's arrest on charges of accepting a bribe from a construction firm while in office.
On Friday, a judge granted Lula the right to leave prison in the southern city of Curitiba to attend his grandson's funeral, in a suburb of Sao Paulo, about 250 miles to the northeast.
Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2011, was among Brazil's most popular presidents ever while in office, but his image was tarnished among many segments of the population as he become ensnared in several graft probes. The 12-year sentence relates to a luxury apartment he was gifted by construction firm Odebrecht.
He has vigorously denied all charges against him and has portrayed them as part of a judicial coup.
Lula stayed at the cemetery in the suburb of Sao Bernardo do Campo for two hours, though did not speak publicly outside of the funeral ceremony, his press office said.
It is the second loss of a family member for the former president this year.
In January, Lula's brother, Genival Inacio da Silva, known as "Vava," died. At that time, lawyers also sought the former president's temporary release so he could attend the funeral. Lower courts rejected the request, but the Supreme Court allowed it.
(Reporting by Marcela Ayres; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by David Gregorio)