Brazil’s ex-leader Lula due in court in corruption case
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is due to appear in court later on Wednesday over allegations he accepted bribes.
He is suspected of letting construction giant Odebrecht buy the land for his Sao Paulo institute and providing him with an apartment nearby.
Lula will be questioned by top anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro.
Despite various corruption charges, polls suggest Lula is the front runner in the 2018 presidential election.
Make or break
In July, Judge Moro sentenced Lula to nine and a half years in prison for accepting bribes from engineering firm OAS in the form of a beachfront apartment in return for his help in winning contracts with Brazil’s state oil company, Petrobras.
Lula remains free while he is appealing against the sentence. Unless his appeal succeeds, he will not be able to stand for the 2018 election.
He is also fighting four other corruption cases brought against him.
Last week, he was also charged with forming a criminal organisation to divert funds from Petrobras.
Lula will be questioned by Sergio Moro, the judge in charge of Operation Car Wash, the country’s biggest ever corruption investigation.
The BBC’s South America correspondent Katy Watson says Judge Moro is a divisive figure in Brazil.
To some he is a superstar anti-corruption crusader while to others he is a man on a mission to destroy the former president and the Workers’ Party Lula led, our correspondent says.
Lula says the corruption charges have been brought against him to prevent him from running in the election.
He governed the country between 2003 and 2011 and enjoyed huge popularity at the time.
Not able under Brazilian law to stand for a third consecutive term, he was succeeded by his protege, Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached last year accused of breaking budgetary laws.
Lula still has a lot of name recognition and remains popular with many in the Workers’ Party.
Police say they are expecting thousands of his supporters to travel to the southern city of Curitiba, where the court hearing will be held.
But testimony given by his former right-hand man, Antonio Palocci, last week strengthened Judge Moro’s case.
According to Palocci, Lula had agreed with Odebrecht that the company would pay $96m (£73m) to the Workers’ Party in exchange for commercial contracts and benefits.
Lula’s lawyers said that Palocci’s accusations against Lula were false and that the former finance minister was trying to reduce his jail sentence.