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Former Brazilian president Lula convicted on corruption charges

Eraldo Peres / AP

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, 71, was convicted Wednesday of corruption charges and sentenced to 9.5 years in prison. A former union leader, Lula led Brazil from 2003-2011, and was one of the most popular and influential figures in modern South American politics — Barack Obama once called him "the most popular politician on earth."

  • He was found guilty of accepting a $1.2 million bribe from a Brazilian engineering firm in exchange for preferential treatment over contracts with a state oil company.
  • Lula remains free while he appeals the ruling, but faces four more corruption trials as prosecutors allege he oversaw a wider kickback scheme, per Reuters. He had said he wanted to run for president again, but won't be able to if the conviction holds.
  • His handpicked successor, Dilma Rousseff, was controversially impeached in September over alleged budgetary violations and replaced as president by Michel Temer, who himself faces corruption charges.