Brazil’s Lula defies prison order as crowds rally for and against him

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defied a judge’s order to report to prison Friday, setting up a showdown with authorities and triggering demonstrations around the country both for and against the charismatic politician’s stand.

Earlier in the day, an appeals court rejected a last-minute request by Lula to temporarily waive his prison mandate.

The former president was sentenced in January to 12 years in prison for accepting bribes from a large Brazilian construction company in return for government contracts. He denies any wrongdoing and has called the case a political witch hunt.

Lula, who appears set to be the first Brazilian president to be jailed since the country’s military dictatorship ended three decades ago, is leading in the polls ahead of a presidential election in October. He has vowed to continue his campaign from behind bars, if necessary.

On Thursday, Judge Sérgio Moro ordered Lula to report to the federal police station in Curitiba, about 250 miles from Sao Paulo, by 5 p.m. next day to begin serving his sentence after the Supreme Court refused to let him stay out of prison until the appeals process is exhausted. Moro is the main judge presiding over Brazil’s “Car Wash” corruption investigation and has gained international recognition for holding some of Brazil’s

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