Brazil’s former President Lula da Silva found guilty of corruption

(CNN) – Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s former president, was found guilty Wednesday of corruption and money laundering charges, and has been sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in jail, a representative of the federal court in Parana state told CNN.

Authorities alleged a construction company gave Lula da Silva a beachfront triplex apartment as a bribe.

The prosecution was part of a money laundering investigation into Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run oil company.

The investigation, dubbed “Car Wash” in reference to the car wash services at gas stations, uncovered a widespread bribery operation.

Da Silva, 71, pleaded not guilty and said the prosecution was politically motivated. He can appeal the decision.

He still faces corruption, obstruction of justice and money laundering charges in four other court cases.

Born into a working-class family, da Silva left school and began working at age 12. Unhappy with the lack of political representation of the working class in Brazil, he decided to get involved in politics.

Universally known as Lula, he is a founding member of Brazil’s only socialist political party, Partido dos Trabalhadores, the Workers’ Party.

He won two terms as president, serving from October 2002 until January 2011. He was friends with the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who supported his political career.

He left office with a 90% approval rating but was questioned by police about the corruption allegations in March 2016.

Da Silva’s wife, Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva, also was charged. She died in February.