World Bulletin / News Desk
Brazil's former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, backed by hundreds of red-shirted supporters, was due in court Wednesday for a corruption trial that could end his storied career.
He says the charges are trumped up to stop him seeking reelection in 2018. His passionate supporters gathering in the southern city of Curitiba agree.
Wearing the Workers' Party red color and waving red flags, hundreds of people came in on scores of buses from around the country to back Lula ahead of his hearing with senior "Car Wash" Judge Sergio Moro.
"Lula is a victim of a deeply erroneous judicial procedure," said Ralph Moreira, 60, a lawyer who joined a pro-Lula protest camp set up in Curitiba. "We came to back up the rural workers who are strengthening the fight for democracy."
There were high-profile allies of the beleaguered former president too. Workers' Party Senator Humberto Costa flew in Tuesday and Lula's successor in the presidency, Dilma Rousseff, was due in on Wednesday, a spokesman said.
Lula, 71, became an icon of Latin America's left during a 2003-2010 presidency that saw Brazil enjoy a commodities-fueled boom and tens of millions of people lifted out of severe poverty.
But now facing a total of five corruption trials, he is fighting for his future.
After a low-key campaign, opinion polls put the conservative in the lead as he claims credit for the island's economic recovery since its debilitating financial crisis of 2013.
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