A Brazilian judge has ordered former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to stand trial on charges of corruption and money laundering.
Judge Sergio Moro ruled Tuesday that Lula, who served as president from 2003 to 2011, will be tried for allegedly accepting $1.15 million in bribes connected to a sweeping kickback probe at state-run oil company Petrobras. Also on trial will be the former first lady and six others.
Lula's hand-chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff, was found guilty of breaking budget rules and was dismissed from the presidency last month.
FILE - Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff waves to supporters after the Brazilian Senate voted to impeach her for breaking budget laws, at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, May 12, 2016.
Rousseff’s successor, former Vice President Michel Temer, has pulled the country to the political and economic right, trying to boost Brazil out of its worst economic recession since the 1930s.
In explaining his decision, Moro said Silva and others benefited from renovations at a beachfront apartment in the coastal city of Guaruja in Sao Paulo state. The improvements were made by the construction company OAS, which is one of those involved in the kickback scheme at Petrobras.
Lula has denied all charges against him, but the decision may prevent Brazil's power player from making a political comeback in the 2018 presidential campaign. It could also derail any hopes the Workers' Party (PT) had of returning to power, according to some experts.
Despite the corruption allegations facing the PT and several of its former coalition parties, the most recent polls have shown Lula remains a leading candidate for 2018.
Lula was charged with three counts each of corruption, which carries a maximum sentence of 16 years per count, and money laundering, with a possible sentence of up to 10 years per count. If found guilty, however, the sentence would be determined by the judge.
Some information in this report was provided by Reuters.