Sao Bernardo Do Campo, Apr 8 (AFP) Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva surrendered to police today to start serving a 12-year sentence for corruption, Globo television reported.

Lula was able to walk out of the metalworkers’ union building near Sao Paulo where he had spent two days holed up, and was taken away in a convoy of black police cars.

An earlier attempt to leave by car had been blocked by a crowd of supporters who opposed his arrest.

Live footage on Globo showed Lula, surrounded by bodyguards, slowly pushing through the crowd of supporters outside the building in Sao Bernardo do Campo. He was then reported to have got into one of the police vehicles waiting outside.

The convoy, with flashing lights, then entered a highway.

Lula was to be flown to the southern city of Curitiba where Brazil’s gigantic “Car Wash” anti-corruption investigation is based.

He was found guilty last year of taking a luxury apartment as a bribe from a construction company.

Lula, who was president for two terms from 2003-2010, says he is the victim of a politicized judiciary aiming to stop him from competing in October presidential elections. Despite his legal problems he currently easily leads in opinion polls. (AFP) CHT CHT

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.