Brazil's imprisoned ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, still loved by large parts of the population, plans to remarry if he is released from prison, a former minister said. Lula, 73, a widower for the past two years, has been sentenced to more than two decades behind bars in two separate corruption cases.
He has already spent a year in jail but could be eligible for semi-open incarceration later this year after an appeals court reduced one of his sentences.
He is in love and the first thing he wants to do after getting out of prison will be to marry, Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira, who held cabinet posts in finance and science, wrote on Facebook -- reportedly to the dismay of Lula's aides.
Last week, Bresser-Pereira visited Lula in his prison in Curitiba, southern Brazil. He is in very good shape, physically and psychologically, the ex-minister said.
According to the website of the weekly Epoca, the prospective bride-to-be is Rosangela da Silva, a sociologist aged about 40. She works for the public company that runs a major hydroelectric plant.
They have had a longstanding friendship, after meeting during the 1990s.
Epoca columnist Guilherme Amado said Monday on its website that the romance began before Lula was incarcerated, but his entourage had kept it secret and did not appreciate the revelation on Facebook.
Lula's wife of 43 years, Maria Leticia, died in February 2017.
The charismatic Lula led Brazil through a historic boom from 2003 to 2010, earning the gratitude of millions of Brazilians for redistributing wealth to haul them out of poverty.
Voter surveys showed he remained broadly popular despite his conviction.
He was first found guilty on charges of accepting a seaside apartment as a bribe for helping the OAS construction company to get lucrative deals with state oil firm Petrobras.
The conviction came as part of the wide-ranging Car Wash anti-corruption probe that has caught up several South American politicians.
An appeals court last month cut Lula's sentence from 12 years to eight years and 10 months, meaning he could qualify for the semi-open prison regime that would enable him to work outside during the day, returning at night to his cell.
But that depends on the outcome of Lula's appeal of the second conviction handed down in February.
In that case, Lula was sentenced to almost 13 years for accepting renovation work by two construction companies on a farmhouse in exchange for ensuring they won contracts with Petrobras.
He has denied all the charges, arguing they were politically motivated to prevent him competing in elections last year won by far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.