UPDATE 3-Brazil prosecutors seek Lula's arrest for money laundering

jueves 10 de marzo de 2016 20:25 GYT

(Adds comment from Lula's foundation, lawyer)

By Brad Haynes and Eduardo Simões

SAO PAULO, March 10 (Reuters) - State prosecutors in Brazil are seeking the arrest of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on charges of money laundering and identity fraud for concealing ownership of a beachfront apartment, his foundation said on Thursday.

The effort to arrest the former president raised the stakes dramatically in a crisis threatening to topple his successor, President Dilma Rousseff, and was likely to further polarize protests on Sunday calling for her impeachment.

Lula's foundation called the motion to arrest the president "more proof of the partiality" of Sao Paulo state prosecutor Cassio Conserino. The motion requires the approval of a judge, which is highly unlikely, according to a presidential aide who asked not to be named given the sensitivity of the case.

Conserino declined to comment on possible arrests in a news conference regarding the charges earlier in the day, and court officials did not comment on the news.

Newspaper O Globo quoted court documents in which prosecutors argued that Lula should be jailed preventatively because he could "summon his violent network of supporters to keep the criminal process from proceeding."

Last week federal police brought Lula in for questioning in a separate investigation, setting off isolated skirmishes in the streets between supporters and critics of the former president as the graft probe inflamed political tensions.

Earlier on Thursday, Conserino told reporters that two dozen witnesses said Lula was the owner of a luxury condo in the city of Guarujá, using their testimony as proof that he profited from real estate projects financed by a state bankers' cooperative.   Continuación...