UPDATE 1-Brazil's Lula says charges aimed at wrecking his political career
(Adds Lula statement to media, former minister Pimentel probed for BNDES loans to builder Odebrecht)
By Natalia Scalzaretto
SAO PAULO, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday dismissed corruption charges against him as a fabrication and said he was being framed to stop him from running for the presidency in two years time.
Still Brazil's most popular politician despite involvement of his Workers Party in the massive Petrobras graft scandal, Lula cried and laughed as he dismissed charges that could lead to his arrest and end his political career.
"Prove I committed one act of corruption and I will walk to the police station and hand myself in," the gravelly-voiced Lula said at his first public appearance since he was formally charged on Wednesday.
Prosecutors charged him with corruption and money laundering for allegedly taking bribes disguised as favors from an engineering firm implicated in the sprawling bribery and political kickback scheme at Petrobras, the state-run oil company.
Tears came to Lula's eyes as he recalled going hungry as a child before he rose to become a union leader, founded Latin America's most important leftist party, and was elected as Brazil's first working-class president.
The 70-year-old Lula was a hero to many poor Brazilians during his 2003-2010 government, which helped to raise more than 30 million people out of poverty.
Lula said he would collaborate with prosecutors because he had committed no crime, and he pleaded for respect for his wife, who has also been charged in a case involving a luxury apartment in the coastal resort of Guarujá that prosecutors allege was given to Lula as a bribe by construction company OAS. Continuación...