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Wednesday October 19, 2016
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Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacts after voting during municipal elections in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, October 2, 2016. — Reuters picBrazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacts after voting during municipal elections in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil, October 2, 2016. — Reuters pic

SAO PAULO, Oct 19 — Embattled former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva insisted yesterday that he played no role in Brazil’s huge corruption scandal, accusing his opponents of damaging Brazil’s democracy.

Lula, who faces three corruption-related court cases that could sink his hopes of returning to power in 2018 presidential elections, wrote in Folha de Sao Paulo that he was the victim of “political persecution”.

“I can’t keep silent in the face of the abuses committed by agents of the state,” he wrote. 

Prosecutors, he said, intend “to destroy the basis of democracy in Brazil”.

Lula’s declarations came amid persistent rumours of his possible pre-trial detention, although officials have said nothing to indicate that this is imminent.

Lula, 70, was a hugely popular president for two terms before handing over to his protege Dilma Rousseff in 2014. 

However, his reputation has been badly damaged by the revelation of a vast corruption scheme that flourished during his time in office at the state flagship company Petrobras.

Rouseff was ejected from office in an impeachment trial on separate charges this year and Lula’s leftist Workers' Party was hammered in municipal elections earlier in October.

“I never practiced, never authorised or benefited from illegal acts at Petrobras,” he wrote. — AFP

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