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Former Brazil President Lula faces sixth trial for corruption

Brazilian ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva speaks to the media after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Dec. 3, 2009. Source: GETTY IMAGES/SEAN GALLUP.

This material belongs to: Reuters.

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, already found guilty of corruption in one graft trial, will now face a sixth trial on charges related to a sweeping political kickback scheme that sent Latin America’s biggest economy into political chaos, a judge ordered on Tuesday.

A federal judge said in a court document that Lula would stand trial for allegedly accepting 1 million reais ($320,000) in refurbishing at a country home, in return for political favors from the former leader.

The “Car Wash” investigation focuses on billions in bribes paid by some of Brazil’s biggest businesses in return for lucrative contracts at state-run companies.

Executives from builder Odebrecht SA [ODBES.UL] and engineering firm OAS SA said in plea-bargain deals they made the improvements at the property located just north of Sao Paulo.

Lula has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence of any wrongdoing in the kickback scheme, which has seen over 100 politicians, businessmen and others go to jail, four living former presidents put under investigation and current leader Michel Temer charged with allegedly accepting bribes.

Lula’s legal team did not respond to requests for comment on the latest trial.

Lula was found guilty last month and sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison for accepting 3.7 million reais worth of bribes from engineering firm OAS, the amount of money prosecutors said the company spent refurbishing a beach apartment for Lula in return for his help winning contracts with state oil company Petroleo Brasileiro.

The former president is free pending appeal. If his guilty verdict is upheld, Lula would likely be barred for running again for president next year, which he has said he wants to do.