Former Odebrecht  operation carwash Brazil Lula
© Brasil de Fato
Former Odebrecht executive Carlos Armando Paschoal during testimony to the Public Prosecutor's Office in November 2018.
Former Odebrecht Superintendent, Carlos Armando Paschoal, and one of the plaintiffs in the trial against former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva admitted that he was "almost coerced" by Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato) prosecutors to "build a story" that would incriminate Lula, according to a report published Tuesday by Brasil de Fato.

"In the case of the Atibaia site (the property attributed to former President Lula that was remodeled by Odebrecht allegedly in payment of a bribe), which I had absolutely nothing to do, for example, I was almost coerced to create an account of what happened," Paschoal testified in another trial on July 6.

According to his account, he was forced to say something like "look, this happened, this, this and that...I had to build a story," in exchange of reduced sentence of two years in open prison regime.

In February 2019, Brazilian justice ruled a second sentence against the leader of the Worker's Party (PT) arguing he received about US$270,000 for the renovations of a house as "payment." The verdict sentenced the former president to 13 years in prison for alleged corruption and money laundering.

The former president and his defense denied those accusations since the start, now upon hearing the testimony of Pashcoal, Lula's attorney, Cristiano Zanin Martins, reiterated that there is a political-judicial strategy to imprison his client. "It only reinforces what we said," he added.

Paschoal would be the second key witness who comes forward, in less than a month, to admit that there was coercion by prosecutors to implicate Lula. On July 1, businessman Leo Pinheiro, a witness of the case against Lula, admitted he was forced to testify and blackmailed by the prosecutors of in exchange of reduced sentence.

Lula's main trial was built on the accusation that he received about US$1.15 million in bribes. According to the Attorney General's Office, the amount would have been passed on through a luxury apartment and a payment for the storage of the company's assets between 2011 and 2016, as gifts received when he was president.

Valeska Texeira Zanin Martin, a lead lawyer in Lula's defense team, said evidence "definitely proves that Lula could not have been given a bribe." The lawyer argued in 2017 that bank and real estate records proved Lula's innocence but that then-judge Sergio Moro "made his bias and political motivation clear from the beginning to the end of the process."

An accusation that was proven true on June 9 as a The Intercept Brazil published on Sunday an extensive and hard-hitting exposé on the alleged political motivations behind Operation Car Wash against Lula, and unethical involvement of current Supreme Minister of Justice, Moro.

The documents were released in a three-part series where, based on leaked documents and Telegram messages between prosecutors and Moro, it shows the "apolitical" and "unbiased" team spent hours internally plotting how to prevent the return to power by Lula and his party. As well as the lack of hard and documented evidence to establish a case against the former head of state.