Brazil's Lula lashes out at imprisonment, loses privileges

Brasília (AFP) –


Brazil's leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday lashed out against his imprisonment for corruption but the government rejected his claim to have been victim of a "farce" and a judge stripped him of presidential privileges.

In a column in French newspaper Le Monde, Lula called his conviction and 12 year sentence for graft "a judicial farce" and said that presidential elections would be unfair without his participation.

Lula's jailing in April almost certainly knocks him out of the October election in which opinion polls show him to be the frontrunner.

The election "will not be democratic unless all political forces can take part in a free and fair way," he wrote in Le Monde.

The cabinet chief for current center-right President Michel Temer responded Thursday that Lula's court case had nothing to do with politics.

"The question of ex-president Lula is determined by the judiciary. In Brazil we respect the separation of powers and we won't question a decision by the judiciary," the minister, Eliseu Padilha, told foreign journalists.

There was more bad news for Lula when a Sao Paulo judge granted a temporary injunction annulling a series of privileges automatically granted to ex-presidents.

These include vehicles, chauffeurs, bodyguards and assistants.

Judge Haroldo Nader said Lula's security in prison in Curitiba was greater than when he was free, so he did not need more protection.

"It's also absolutely unnecessary to have two vehicles with drivers when your right to movement is restricted to the federal police building in Curitiba and controlled by prison staff," the judge noted.

Lula served two terms from 2003 through 2010, winning plaudits for overseeing a commodities-fueled economic boom and major programs to lift millions of Brazilians from extreme poverty. However his legacy has been tarnished by revelations of a gigantic corruption scheme involving much of the political elite.