By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – One day after being charged by federal prosecutors for corruption and mismanagement of funds, former President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva said in a rally in São Paulo that the entire list of accusations announcement on Wednesday was ‘a pyrotechnic spectacle’ and that he was being persecuted ‘for the good things he did for the country’.
“In respect for the law, I will provide as many depositions as needed. Call me and I’ll be there,” said Lula to a group of PT (Workers’ Party) supporters.
“If there’s one thing they have to learn is that they are not dealing with [regular] citizen. The only thing that I’m proud of is that I’ve won the right to walk with my head held high. Prove I was involved in corruption and I will walk [into] prison,” he challenged prosecutors.
In his first public appearance after being charged, the former president Lula Once again denied being the owner of a beachfront penthouse apartment in the town of Guaruja and a house in the interior of São Paulo. “They have ‘given’ me an apartment that I do not have, they have ‘given’ me a country house that is not mine,” he said.
Twice during the hour-long rally, the former president’s eyes swelled with tears. “When I break the law, punish me to make an example. But when I do not transgress, go hassle someone else,” he told supporters.
According to prosecutors the former leader was the head of an ample network of corruption and money-laundering scheme. The charges against Lula, of passive corruption and money laundering, carry a maximum penalty of up to 32 years and six months in prison.