Porto Alegre: The first of three Brazilian judges considering the appeal of ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva voted Wednesday to uphold his corruption conviction and increase his jail sentence.
The judge, Joao Gebran Neto, was the first of three appeals court judges to present his decision at the court in the southern city of Puerto Alegre.
The two other judges were to deliver their verdicts later Wednesday in Lula`s appeal against a 9.5-year sentence for corruption as part of Brazil`s sprawling "Car Wash" graft scandal.
Confirmation of the sentence would effectively end Lula`s hopes of running in this year`s presidential election.
Lula is accused of being gifted a three-floor seaside apartment from Brazil`s OAS construction group in exchange for public contracts from state-controlled oil company Petrobras during his 2003-2010 presidency.
Defense lawyer Cristiano Zanin Martins had told the court it was clear OAS owned the apartment and "Lula never got the keys and never spent a night there."
But in a judgement reading that took three hours, Neto said there was evidence "that the triplex apartment, from the beginning, even before the OAS took over the works, was reserved for President Lula."
He said he had decided to raise his 9.5-year sentence to 12 years and one month, considering the position Lula held.
He said Lula had been one of the architects "of a sophisticated scheme of fraud and corruption" that weakened "not only the functioning of Petrobras but the entire Brazilian political process."