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09.11.2019 US & Canada

France's left wing celebrates Lula's release

By RFI
REUTERS/Rodolfo Buhrer
NOV 9, 2019 US & CANADA

France's left wing celebrated former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's release from jail, while Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said she was waiting for him in the French capital.

The release on Friday of Brazil's former left-wing leader, popularly known as Lula, was greeted with rapturous applause from crowds of supporters in Brazil

The firebrand leader with his trademark gristly white beard walked out of jail on Friday.

Lula's release mustered staunch support from France's socialist allies.

A citizen of honour in Paris
Paris' mayor Anne Hidalgo said she was "happy" with his release. "I'm expecting him very soon in Paris where he is a citizen of honour," she said.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the head of the hard-left France Unbowed party who had visited Lula in jail, tweeted "Victory, Brazil's justice system works."

Former French President François Hollande tweeted "Lula's place was never in prison. His freedom is restored and I know he will put it to good use."

Bolsonaro on the guard
Lula's freedom gives the opposition, which has been splintered and largely rudderless in the Bolsonaro era, a towering figure to lead the charge.

Criticising Bolsonaro's economic policies, Lula vowed to keep fighting for impoverished Brazilians.

Breaking his silence on the release of his arch-nemesis, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro urged his Twitter followers 'not to give ammunition to the scoundrel' who was "momentarily free, but guilty."

Lula denounces 'politically motivated' case
Lula's dramatic exit from jail in the southern city of Curitiba on Friday came a day after a Supreme Court ruling that allows defendants to remain free while their appeals are pending.

Lula was favourite to win last year's presidential election but was imprisoned after being implicated in a major corruption scandal called Car Wash (Lava Jato).

The race was won instead by far-right candidate Bolsonaro. Lula has always proclaimed his innocence and that the case against him was politically motivated.

A point of view shared by his supporters in France.

"Lula Free! Finally! His release by the Supreme Court demonstrates the lies and deceit which have allowed [Jair] Bolsonaro to come to power," tweeted Olivier Faure of the Socialist party.

Lula is still appealing the case that put him behind bars, related to the alleged purchase of a beachfront apartment in Sao Paulo state.

He will be barred from standing for office unless the corruption charges against him are dropped.

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