In a dramatic fall from grace, leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva spent as Brazil’s first ex-president to be imprisoned for a common crime — and his cell was in the headquarters of the giant anti-graft probe that brought him down.
According to report by news agency AFP, the first day of Lula’s 12-year sentence marked the downfall of once one of the world’s most popular politicians. Although Brazilian presidents of recent history have routinely ended up in trouble — impeached, brought down by a coup and even one suicide — Lula is the first to have been convicted of corruption and locked up.
His new home is a roughly 160 square foot (15-meter square) cell in the federal police headquarters in Curitiba, the southern city where the “Car Wash” probe is based. Named after a service station where agents initially uncovered a relatively small money laundering operation, “Car Wash” has turned into one of the world’s biggest ever examples of such a probe, netting scores of top politicians, some of Brazil’s richest businessmen, and sending shock waves through Latin America.
Lula was found guilty last year of taking a luxury apartment as a bribe from a construction company and is “Car Wash’s” biggest scalp — though Lula says the conviction was rigged. The former two-term president arrived by police helicopter on the roof of the lock-up in Curitiba late Saturday.