Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was convicted of corruption and money laundering Wednesday and was sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison.
Silva, often known as Lula, will remain free while an appeal is heard.
He was accused of receiving an apartment as a bribe in a corruption scandal involving state oil company Petrobas. He has denied the charges and said the trial is politically motivated.
“The present conviction does not bring this judge any personal satisfaction. Quite the contrary, it is regrettable that a former president be criminally convicted,” federal Judge Sergio Moro wrote in his decision, according to the Associated Press. “It doesn’t matter how high you are, the law is still above you.”
Silva's Workers’ Party lost the presidency in 2016 when the Senate impeached his successor, Dilma Rousseff.
Silva, 71, was president between 2003 and 2010 and is one of Brazil's most beloved leaders. He is leading in the polls for next year's presidential election and had announced his intention to run.
The case will now be heard by a group of magistrates. If they uphold the conviction, Brazilian law says Silva would not be allowed to run for office, according to the AP.
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