Lula asks to postpone an interrogation for an audience with Pope Francis

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva asked the Justice to postpone an interrogation scheduled for next week by arguing that he is scheduled to have an audience with Pope Francis at the Holy See, the institute led by the politician confirmed on Wednesday.

The leader of the Workers' Party informed federal judge Vallisney de Oliveira, of the 10th Federal Criminal Court of Brasilia, of his intention to travel to Italy next week for an appointment with Francisco, and, therefore, requested to postpone a marked interrogation for the next day 11 in one of the causes in which he responds for corruption.

Lula's defense explained to Justice that the former president plans to visit Italy between February 12 and 15, although he said that the ex-president "will not stop appearing at any judicial act for which his presence is mandatory."

The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, who met with Pope Francisco last week, revealed that he acted as an interlocutor for Lula (2003-2010) after a request from the Brazilian ex-president.

The former head of state has repeatedly expressed his admiration for Pope Francis, who last year sent a letter to Lula while serving a penalty for corruption at the headquarters of the Federal Police of Curitiba, in southern Brazil.

Lula, who spent 580 in prison and is on probation, is convicted in two proceedings for corruption and has at least seven other investigations against him.

The ex-president was sentenced in the third instance to 8 years and 10 months for passive corruption and money laundering, after being found guilty of receiving an apartment in the São Paulo spa of Guarujá in exchange for political favors to the OAS construction company.

The other penalty that weighs on Lula is 12 years and 11 months in jail in a very similar case, but issued so far in the first instance and not yet confirmed in the second.

In the interrogation scheduled for next February 11, Lula must respond to the Justice for an alleged crime of passive corruption, related to the enactment in 2009 of an extension of tax incentives for car manufacturers in exchange for alleged bribes.


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