CURITIBA, Brazil — Jailed former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will register his candidacy to return to the country's highest office at the deadline for October's election, his party said Monday.
The Workers' Party announced after an eight-hour meeting that da Silva remains its candidate and will have his bid registered on the final filing day, Aug. 15.
It also said the former president, who is universally known to Brazilians as Lula, is a political prisoner and victim of "a violent arrest."
"For all these reasons, for all his history, Lula remains as our candidate for the presidency and his candidacy will be registered on Aug.15, accordingly with the electoral legislation," the party statement said.
Current legislation allows Brazil's electoral court to reject da Silva's candidacy due to his conviction on corruption and money laundering charges. He could appeal that rejection, but his party would have only until Sep. 17 to replace him as its candidate.
Despite his conviction, da Silva leads polls on the race for the presidency, an office he held in 2003-2010. He still has appeals available to contest his sentence of 12 years and one month in prison and the conviction for allegedly trading influence in return for the promise of a beachfront apartment.
The once hugely popular leader strongly denies any wrongdoing in that case or in seven other corruption cases that are still pending against him. He contends he is being politically persecuted to keep him off the ballot.
About 300 meters (300 yards) from da Silva's cell in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba, more than 1,000 supporters celebrated after hearing leaders of the Workers' Party say his presidential candidacy will be registered "under any circumstances."
"This arrest will be reversed because higher courts will not agree with this speedy process that threw the most popular president in Brazilian history in jail," said Regina Cruz, who is camping near the federal police building where da Silva is jailed. "We will carry him from prison to the presidency."
Members of the Workers' Party, however, hinted they expect their main leader to be in prison for a while. They decided to move the party headquarters to Curitiba.
Da Silva's supporters are pushing for him to be transferred to Sao Paulo, near his residence in suburban Sao Bernardo do Campo.
Neighbors of the federal police building in Curitiba agree. Many nearby streets are crowded with protesters that pledge to camp there until Da Silva is released.
Attorney Cristiano Zanin, the only person allowed to visit da Silva for the moment, said the former president spent most of Monday reading a sociology book. Zanin also said da Silva was "very happy" after watching in his cell his favorite soccer team, Corinthians, beat archrivals Palmeiras.