RIO DE JANEIRO, April 5 (Xinhua) -- A Brazilian judge on Thursday ordered the arrest of former president and presidential hopeful Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Federal judge Sergio Moro ordered the arrest just hours after the Federal Supreme Court rejected a habeas corpus to save Lula from beginning a 12-year prison sentence until he had exhausted the appeal process.
Moro ordered Lula to turn himself in to the authorities in Curitiba, capital of southern Parana State, before 5 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Friday, and start his sentence.
"Regarding the convict and ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, I grant him, in consideration of the dignity of the post he occupied, the opportunity to voluntarily turn himself in to federal police in Curitiba by 5 p.m. on 6/4/2018, when his prison sentence must be fulfilled," Moro said in a statement.
The judge added that a special area has been readied at the federal police headquarters for Lula to begin his sentence. "The ex-president will remain apart from other inmates, and run no risk of moral or physical harm," Moro said.
Parana is where Moro has been leading Brazil's wide-reaching investigation into corruption involving state oil giant Petrobras. The investigation, codenamed Operation Car Wash, has led to numerous high-level arrests.
Last year, Moro convicted Lula for accepting perks from a major construction firm that won lucrative government contracts from Petrobras, including the use of a luxury beachside apartment.
Lula's lawyer Cristiano Zanin protested the deadline, saying his client can legally file more appeals to the Federal Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Justice before April 10.
Lula, who has been leading the presidential polls despite his legal battles, denies any wrongdoing, saying he is being persecuted to prevent him from running for re-election.
His original nine-year-plus sentence was extended to 12 years by an appeals court in January.