By Marina Lopes,
SAO PAULO, Brazil — Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was convicted Wednesday of corruption and money laundering and sentenced to nine years in prison, a stunning blow to a man once hailed across the hemisphere as an innovative leader.
The landmark decision marks the first conviction of the former president, popularly known as Lula, who also faces five other corruption charges. He is expected to appeal and not face jail time while the case winds its way through the courts.
Lula, 71, who presided over Brazil’s government from 2003 to 2010 and was one of the country’s most popular politicians, was found guilty of receiving $1.1 million in favors from a construction company.
The verdict was delivered Wednesday afternoon by Judge Sergio Moro, who is presiding over Operation Car Wash, a massive corruption probe that has sent a number of the country’s top politicians to jail. Lula’s appeal is likely to lead to a judicial process that could take a year and a half.
Lula is widely expected to run for another presidential term in the October 2018 election.