Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks to supporters after he was released from jail where he was imprisoned on corruption charges in Curitiba, Brazil, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. Da Silva walked out of prison less than a day after the Supreme Court ruled that a person can be imprisoned only after all the appeals have been exhausted. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Freed Brazilian ex-President rallies supporters at union

November 09, 2019 - 1:50 pm

SAO BERNARDO DO CAMPO, Brazil (AP) — Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva addressed thousands of jubilant supporters outside a union headquarters on Saturday after being released from prison.

Dressed in a black blazer and T-shirt, da Silva spoke from a stage outside the union near Sao Paulo that he once led and that served as the base for his political career.

"During 580 days, I prepared myself spiritually, prepared myself to not have hatred, to not have thirst for revenge," the former president said.

"Why did I prepare? Because I wanted to prove that, even though jailed by them, I slept with my conscience much more at ease than theirs," he said.

Thousands of supporters wearing red and waving flags had gathered earlier around a giant figure of the former leader wearing the presidential sash.

Da Silva was released from prison Friday after the Supreme Court ruled a person can be imprisoned only after all appeals to higher courts have been exhausted.

He is still appealing his conviction related to the alleged purchase of a beachfront apartment and remains entangled in other court cases. He was also sentenced by a lower court judge in a case centered around ownership of a farmhouse in Atibaia, outside Sao Paulo.

If he loses his appeals in either conviction, he could find himself imprisoned once again.

Da Silva has denied any wrongdoing and accused prosecutors and Sergio Moro, then a judge and now justice minister, of political persecution.

Moro said on Twitter earlier that the Supreme Court's decision this week should be respected, but that Congress could alter the constitution to change when convicted criminals begin serving their sentences. Da Silva spoke repeatedly about Moro, at times addressing him directly.

"I could have gone to an embassy, fled to another country," da Silva said. "I need to prove that Judge Moro wasn't a judge, but rather a scoundrel who was throwing me away."

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Jeantet reported from Rio de Janeiro.

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