Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Brazil's embattled former President declares innocence

Lula, 70, was a hugely popular president for two terms before handing over to his protege Dilma Rousseff in 2014

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Brazil's former president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves during the second congress of the IndustriALL Global Union in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil play

Brazil's former president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva waves during the second congress of the IndustriALL Global Union in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

(AFP/File)
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Embattled former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva insisted Tuesday that he played no role in Brazil's huge corruption scandal, accusing his opponents of damaging Brazil's democracy.

Lula, who faces three corruption-related court cases that could sink his hopes of returning to power in 2018 presidential elections, wrote in Folha de Sao Paulo that he was the victim of "political persecution."

"I can't keep silent in the face of the abuses committed by agents of the state," he wrote. Prosecutors, he said, intend "to destroy the basis of democracy in Brazil."

Lula's declarations came amid persistent rumors of his possible pre-trial detention, although officials have said nothing to indicate that this is imminent.

Lula, 70, was a hugely popular president for two terms before handing over to his protege Dilma Rousseff in 2014. However his reputation has been badly damaged by the revelation of a vast corruption scheme that flourished during his time in office at the state flagship company Petrobras.

Rouseff was ejected from office in an impeachment trial on separate charges this year and Lula's leftist Workers' Party was hammered in municipal elections earlier in October.

"I never practiced, never authorized or benefited from illegal acts at Petrobras," he wrote.

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