Brazil's Lula denies obstructing corruption probe

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was in office from 2003 to 2010

Brazil's leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva denied in court Tuesday that he tried to obstruct a giant corruption probe shaking Brazilian politics.

Lula told a court in the capital Brasilia that he hadn't participated in an alleged scheme to pay Nestor Cervero, the ex-director at state oil company Petrobras, not to testify for the government.

Cervero was one of the key figures signing plea bargains to help prosecutors unravel a mammoth corruption network centered on Petrobras. The probe has implicated scores of politicians, with many more expected to be named as targets for investigators this week.

"I never had any worry about any testimony from any businessman or director of Petrobras," Lula said.

Lula, 71, faces five corruption trials but remains a frontrunner for re-election in 2018. On May 3, he is due to testify before Judge Sergi Moro, who heads the Petrobras probe dubbed Car Wash.

Lula, who was president between 2003 and 2010, told the judge Tuesday that his legal problems are part of a strategy to prevent his return to power and said he was being "massacred" in the media.

"Do you know what it's like getting up every day thinking that the media is outside my door because I am going to get arrested?" he asked.

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