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Brazilian ex-president Lula ruled not guilty of obstruction of justice

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
LatAm   Lula is still facing five other crime charges

Brazilian ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was absolved of obstruction of justice on Thursday.

The charge had been brought against him as part of the ongoing investigation, Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato), which is probing corruption at the state-run oil company, Petrobras.

Lula was accused in May 2016 and has been held prisoner since April for passive corruption and money laundering.

His arrest came after he was recorded offering money to Nestor Cervero, the former international director of Petrobras, in exchange for not collaborating with prosecutors in the corruption probe.

Federal Judge Ricardo Leite absolved Lula and other six defendants due to insufficient evidence to back up the accusation against the ex-president. The judge found that the accusation was made with only the statements from the informants of the case.

"The audio recording does not constitute sufficient proof to give a condemnatory decree. There are suspicions too over the hiding of facts by Cervero and his son Bernardo," Judge Leite said in his ruling.

Thursday's acquittal is the first that the former president has received in any of the Operation Car Wash cases against him, though the Federal Prosecutor's Office had asked for the acquittal of Lula and the other defendants in September last year.

Despite this acquittal, Lula is still facing five other crime charges in the Operation Car Wash.


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