Brazil's Lula says he'll be a candidate until court bans him

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 3, file 2017 photo, Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks at a protest against the government's plan to increase privatizations, including in the oil industry, in front of the state-run oil company Petrobras headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Da Silva told reporters on Wednesday, Dec. 20, that he's not worried about an upcoming decision over a corruption conviction and that he will remain a presidential candidate until officially barred. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado, File)

SAO PAULO — Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Wednesday that he's not worried about an upcoming decision of an appeal over his corruption conviction and that he will remain a presidential candidate until officially barred.

Da Silva was convicted in July of corruption and money laundering as part of Brazil's massive "Car Wash" graft investigation. Despite that, he is leading the polls for next year's elections.

If the conviction is upheld, Brazilian law states da Silva would be barred from running. But several legal experts have suggested there are myriad ways he could remain in the race. A court is expected to rule on the appeal on Jan. 24.

"I will be a candidate ... until the day a court says I cannot be a candidate," he told a group of reporters.

Da Silva, who oversaw an unprecedented economic boom while in office from 2003 to 2010, has always said he is innocent of all charges and that he is being persecuted. Da Silva was accused of receiving a beachfront apartment and property repairs as kickbacks from construction company OAS. He never owned the apartment, but prosecutors argued it was intended for him.

Da Silva said Wednesday that he would continue to appeal any unfavorable decision and that he was confident he would not be jailed.

"I will not go down in history as an innocent man convicted," he said.

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