SAO PAULO — Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva cancelled a trip to Africa on Thursday after a Brazilian judge ordered federal police to seize his passport hours before he was to depart.
The development came a day after an appeals court upheld da Silva’s conviction on corruption and money laundering charges, reducing his chances to run in the October presidential election, but the order was issued by a judge involved in a different case facing the ex-leader.
A da Silva spokesman, Jose Chrispiniano, told The Associated Press that his boss “is not going to travel anymore” because of the order.
Da Silva had been invited to speak in the African nation of Ethiopia at a forum on hunger organized by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Brasilia-based Judge Ricardo Leite issued the passport order, but his ruling had not yet been published. He is a substitute judge in a case involving influence peddling allegations against da Silva. Prosecutors say he received bribes through one of his sons in a scheme to influence his successor as president, Dilma Rousseff, between 2013 and 2015 to buy Swedish fighter jets for Brazil’s air force.
The former president denies that accusation along with other charges that are to put him on trial later. Rousseff said in an interview with the AP on Monday that the decision to buy Saab fighter jets in 2014 was made only by herself and Brazil’s military, under no influence from da Silva. The contract is worth $5.4 billion.
One of da Silva’s defense lawyers, Cristiano Zanin, expressed shock at the passport order.
“Former President Lula has the right to go wherever he wants, which could only be restricted if he had final conviction, with no further appeals, which is not the case and will never be because he did not commit any crimes,” Zanin said. “Today’s decision reinforces that there are the human rights violations against the former president.”