Brazil’s Lula da Silva to be transferred to penitentiary

A judge on Wednesday ordered the transfer of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from a lockup in the south of the country to a penitentiary for common criminals in Sao Paulo state. Attorneys of the left-leaning leader said they would challenge the move in court.

Judge Paulo Sorci ruled the former president should be transferred from an isolated single room in federal police facilities in the city of Curitiba to the Tremembe penitentiary, 95 miles (155 kilometers) northeast of Sao Paulo. The date of the transfer is yet to be set and it is not clear what kind of cell the 73-year-old da Silva would be put in.

Earlier, Judge Carolina Lebbos authorized the move at the request of Brazil’s federal police, who said da Silva’s supporters are troubling neighbors of the prison in Curitiba. She hadn’t specified which prison would receive him.

Da Silva’s attorneys said they weren’t consulted about the transfer and said it would be a risk to his security.

The Tremembe penitentiary is known for holding high-profile prisoners. Sao Paulo state’s prison authority says it has a capacity of 408 inmates.

Da Silva’s Workers’ Party said in a statement that the move “is yet another illegality and gesture of persecution against Lula, for it arbitrarily denies him the prerogative of a former president and former commander-in-chief of the armed forces.”

Da Silva has been serving his 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering in Curitiba since April 7 of last year.

He denies any wrongdoing and is awaiting a ruling by the country’s top court this month on allegations that the person who sentenced him, former Judge Sérgio Moro, was biased. A court ruling in his favor could free the former leader.

Moro is currently justice minister in President Jair Bolsanaro’s far-right administration and also heads the country’s federal police.

The news website The Intercept Brasil recently published leaked messages involving Moro and prosecutors that it said showed Moro helped them in their case against Da Silva, who governed between 2003 and 2010.

Moro has said he can’t confirm the messages were his because he has deleted the app, but said they do not show bias in any case.

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