The decision marked an astonishing fall for Lula, one of the country’s most popular politicians and a leading candidate to win next year’s presidential election.
He faces four other corruption lawsuits and is free to appeal.
Judge Sergio Moro found 71-year-old Luiz Inácio Lula guilty of accepting 3.7 million Réals (1.2 million dollars) of bribes from the engineering firm OAS SA, according to The amount advanced by prosecutors. The company has to renovate a beach apartment for Lula in exchange for its help to win contracts with Petroleo Brasileiro State Petroleum Company (PETR4.SA).
Federal prosecutors accused Lula, the first president of the Brazilian working class from 2003 to 2011, of proposing a long-standing corruption project that was discovered during an investigation into Petrobras’ counter-payments.
Lula’s legal team said in an e-mail that his client was innocent, and that they would appeal.
“For more than three years, Lula has been the subject of a politically motivated investigation , “ they wrote. “No credible evidence of guilt was produced, and overwhelming evidence of his innocence was ignored.”
The verdict represented the highest condemnation of a high profile in Brazil.