Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will begin his 12 year prison term from Friday, after a judge gave him 24 hours to surrender to police.
The order from Judge Sergio Moro, head of Brazil’s huge “Car Wash” anti-graft probe, came as a complete surprise given that lawyers had earlier said the leftist former two-term president had at least until Tuesday before he’d have to go behind bars.
Lula, 72, was once one of the most popular politicians on the planet and he easily leads polls in Brazil’s October presidential election. His incarceration will throw the race completely open.
Moro’s office said that in view of Lula’s stature as a former president, he would have “the opportunity to present himself voluntarily” to police in the city of Curitiba, where the “Car Wash” probe is based, by 5:00 pm (2000 GMT) Friday.
There was no immediate reaction from Lula, who had been described earlier by supporters as facing his jailing calmly.