Judge Sergio Moro said the asset freeze was in response to the charge that Lula accepted a bribe of a luxury beachside apartment and $1.1 million in cash from one of Brazil's biggest construction companies, Odebrecht SA.

 Lula has vowed to appeal his conviction on corruption charges and run for president next year, calling the case against him a politicised effort to influence the 2018 election.
Lula has vowed to appeal his conviction on corruption charges and run for president next year, calling the case against him a politicised effort to influence the 2018 election.

A Brazilian judge leading an anti-corruption probe has ordered assets belonging to former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva frozen after last week convicting and sentencing him to prison for graft.

Lula, as he is widely known, remains free pending an appeal of the verdict. He denies any wrongdoing and says he will attempt a political comeback next year by running for president.

Ordering the asset freeze, Judge Sergio Moro said, was in response to the charge that Lula accepted a bribe of a luxury beachside apartment and $1.1 million in cash from one of Brazil's biggest construction companies, Odebrecht SA.

Moro put the value of Lula's assets in property and bank accounts as $4.3 million, according to court papers released on Wednesday.

They comprised three apartments, a plot of land, two vehicles and two accounts holding more than the equivalent of $190,000.

Lula's lawyers described the move as "illegal," claiming that it impaired the livelihood of the former president and his family, adding they would challenge the decision. His party said the sanctions amounted to "economic suffocation."

Lula was a week ago given a nine-and-a-half-year sentence after his conviction.

The 71 year old has portrayed the judicial blow as an attempt to keep him out of the running for the presidency.

Corruption line

One of the most popular Brazilian leaders of modern times, Lula held power from 2003 to 2010, the maximum two consecutive terms permitted by the constitution.

His protegee and fellow Workers Party member, Dilma Rousseff, then took the reins, winning two elections. But she was impeached and ousted last year for fiddling government accounts to hide liabilities.

Her vice president from another party, Michel Temer, has taken over. But he, too, is accused of taking bribes, as have several of his ministers who have resigned.

Source: AFP