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From jail, Brazil’s da Silva testifies in Olympic bid probe

June 5, 2018

FILE - In this March 26, 2018 file photo, Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends a rally in Francisco Beltrao, Parana state, Brazil. Da Silva is telling investigators he was unaware of any vote-buying scheme used to secure the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Da Silva, jailed in April for a corruption conviction, gave video conference testimony Tuesday, June 5, 2018 from jail in the southern city of Curitiba. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Testifying from jail, former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told investigators Tuesday that he was unaware of any vote-buying scheme used to secure the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Da Silva, who in April began serving a 12-year sentence for corruption, gave video conference testimony Tuesday from the southern city of Curitiba.

Authorities in Rio are investigating what they have called an international corruption scheme aimed at buying votes. Last year, police raided the home of former Brazilian Olympic Committee President Carlos Nuzman. Nuzman and several others in Brazil and France were arrested in “Operation Unfair Play.”

Former Rio state Gov. Sergio Cabral, already jailed in a separate corruption case, is also being investigated.

Da Silva, who is not a defendant in the case, was president of Brazil in 2009 when Rio won the bid.

Tuesday’s testimony was not broadcast or released by authorities. Snippets of the testimony were obtained by news portal G1.

In one, da Silva said he only heard about the alleged corruption eight years later.

Soccer great Pele was also expected to testify Tuesday. Pele is not a defendant in the case.

When Brazil won the Olympic bid, it was seen as a sign that Latin America’s largest nation was finally taking its rightful place on the world stage. Over the last several years, however, several cases of alleged corruption surrounding the 2016 Rio Games have emerged.

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