Former Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the front-runner for next year’s presidential election, has been convicted of corruption charges and sentenced to almost a decade in prison.
The ruling is considered a heavy blow to his leftist Workers’ Party and its chances of regaining control over Latin America’s biggest country.
Federal judge Sergio Moro, who headed the graft investigation, found Mr. da Silva guilty of accepting 1.2 million US dollars worth of bribes from an engineering firm. The judge ruled that Lula could remain free pending an appeal. Federal prosecutors have accused Lula of masterminding a long-running corruption scheme that was uncovered in a probe into kickbacks around Petrobras.
Lula has rejected the claims and said the trial is politically motivated and has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
Lula served eight years as President from 2003 to 2011 and helped his hand-picked successor, Dilma Rousseff, win two subsequent elections before she was impeached last year for corruption.