“The intention is not to force compliance at any cost, but rather follow the order the best way possible, with tranquility and without a media show”, president of federal police Luis Antonio Boudens said in a statement late Friday.
More than a thousand supporters of Mr. da Silva and his Workers’ Party spent the day waving red flags and chanting his old campaign slogans outside the union office.
Lula first got into the gray hatchback and appeared about to leave, but activists pushed against the gates, so that they could not be opened and nearly fell down.
But authorities took pains to reduce tensions, downplaying Lula’s defiance and stressing that he was not considered a fugitive, something that would trigger a preventative arrest warrant.
However, dozens of supporters did not let a vehicle he was in leave the gate of the union.
Hundreds of supporters, including workers, students and land rights activists, filled the street outside the union headquarters, cheering defiant speeches calling the case a political witch hunt.
He claims the conviction is meant to prevent him from running for president again in the fall.
“I received an order from the appeal court, ordering the arrest so I just complied with the order”.
Moro ordered Lula to turn himself in to the authorities in Curitiba, capital of Parana State, before 5 pm (Brazilian time) on Friday, and start his sentence.
Lula’s defence team issued a note saying they had filed a request to the United Nations human rights committee requesting interim measures to block the arrest warrant, alleging bias and the violation of the right to presumption of innocence.
Saturday would have been the birthday of Mr. da Silva’s wife, Marisa, who died suddenly past year; local media reported that he might turn himself into police after a religious service in her memory at the union building.
Former president Dilma Rousseff and several of Lula’s former cabinet members were present, as well as leftist presidential hopefuls.
Despite his legal problems, Mr da Silva, 72, is the front-runner in polls ahead of Brazil’s October presidential election and his exit from the race would throw it wide open.
Assisted by high commodity prices and demand from China, Brazil under Mr. da Silva maintained a balanced federal budget while attracting investment and funding social programs that helped 30 million rise from poverty. He also faces a handful of other corruption charges.
Detractors say that Lula epitomizes Brazil’s corruption-riddled elite and his conviction is the biggest “Car Wash” scalp by far.
Although he has been told to turn himself in, it is not certain that he will go to jail for 12 years. The expectation is that Lula remains free if she chooses Marco Aurelio or another justice who voted in favor of the habeas corpus to Lula as the judge responsible for that case. In August, the country’s top electoral court makes final decisions about candidacies.
They would look into whether legal procedures were followed correctly and whether his constitutional rights were breached. He would spend more than a month in jail. If either court were to rule in Lula’s favour, his conviction could be annulled and he would be released.