A Brazilian judge has given former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a nine and a half year sentence for receiving benefits. Lula, who is attempting to make a return to politics, was given the sentence for receiving benefits of around 3.7 million reais ($1.1 million) from a construction company. The benefits were given to him in exchange for favors.
Lula, who was elected as Brazil’s president twice, has recently tried to make a comeback into politics. The former president is now the official to receive the highest sentence over the corruption scandal.
Lula was attempting to make a return but the sentence could leave him out of the race for future elections. After the decision was announced, many Brazilians celebrated or disapproved of the sentence in the streets. Crowds gathered across cities to celebrate or protest the decision. Lula’s party said a few hours ago that the decision was an attack on democracy.
The verdict comes as the country is still in a political turmoil, with president Michel Temer now being accused of corruption. Michel Temer has only been president for a few months and took office when Dilma Rousseff was impeached last year.
Lula’s lawyer says he is innocent and that they will appeal the decision. The verdict comes during a time when politicians in the Justice Committee are debating whether Temer should be put on trial at the Supreme Court. In the last few weeks, Temer has caught the attention of the media for the scandal accusations against him. Experts believe that the verdict is good news for the president as this will take some of the attention away from the media.
Lula was once one of the country’s most popular politicians but the return to politics now looks unlikely with the sentence. He was seen as a strong candidate for the elections in 2018 but he is also facing other trials.