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Brazil court upholds Lula graft conviction in blow to election hopes

Wednesday - 24/01/2018 17:29
A Brazilian appeals court Wednesday upheld ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's conviction for corruption, dealing a body blow to his hopes of running for re-election this year.

The three-judge panel sitting in the southern city of Porto Alegre unanimously ruled that his original 9.5-year jail sentence be extended to more than 12 years.

One of the judges, Joao Gebran Neto, said that during his 2003-2010 presidency, Lula was one of the architects "of a sophisticated scheme of fraud and corruption" that had weakened Brazil's entire political system.

A defiant Lula, 72, said before the judgment he would continue to fight "for the dignity of the Brazilian people" and insisted he had committed no crime.

Lula is likely to remain out of prison for many months. He is expected to continue to challenge the conviction through higher courts, initially in the Superior Court of Justice and ultimately in Brazil's Supreme Court.

However, Wednesday's ruling deals a severe blow to his hopes of running in this year's presidential election, which he was favored to win.

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