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Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva to stand trial

Published:Friday | July 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM
In this June 6, 2016, file photo, Brazil's Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks at a rally in defense of public companies and against Brazil's interim President Michel Temer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A Brazilian low court judge has accepted charges against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for allegedly obstructing the corruption probe at state-run oil giant Petrobras. The date of the trial has not yet been set.

The decision published on Friday names Silva and five others as co-conspirators in an alleged attempt to buy the silence of a former Petrobras director implicated in the scandal.

The obstruction-of-justice accusation against Silva comes from a plea bargain testimony by former Senator Delcidio do Amaral, who was stripped of his seat by his peers and will also stand trial.

On Thursday, Silva's lawyers filed a petition at the UN Human Rights Committee alleging a lack of impartiality and abuse of power by another judge investigating the Petrobras scandal.

Silva, who leads the polls for the 2018 presidential elections, denied any wrongdoing. "It is up to the prosecutors and federal police to prove what they say," he said.

Brasilia-based federal judge Ricardo Leite made Friday's decision. He is himself accused of obstructing an investigation on a tax-evasion scheme led by some of Brazil's biggest companies.

This is the first time that former president Silva, universally known as Lula, will stand trial for charges related to the Petrobras scandal. He is also accused by Sao Paulo state prosecutors of money laundering and criminal misrepresentation in connection with an alleged real estate scheme that benefited him and his family.

Silva governed from 2003 to 2010. Despite a votes-for-bribes scandal that took down his chief of staff and others, he left office with record-high popularity levels, and his handpicked successor, Rousseff, handily won the presidency.

- AP