Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in 2018. Image Credit: Reuters

Sao Paulo: Brazil's jailed former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday was granted leave from prison to attend the weekend funeral of his young grandson, who died at the age of seven.

A federal court decided that Lula, who is serving two concurrent 12-year sentences for corruption, can attend Saturday's services in Sao Paulo for Arthur Araujo Lula da Silva, who succumbed to meningitis.

"Lula has been authorized to take part in the funeral; to protect his family's privacy, and to guarantee public safety and his own, details on the transfer will remain secret," justice officials in Parana state said in a statement.

Federal prosecutors had earlier issued a statement saying they supported Lula's request.

Lula "is very sad - no one expects news like this," the head of his Workers Party, Gleisi Hoffmann, said after visiting him in prison.

"He said no father should ever have to bury a son, no grandfather should bury his grandson."

Arthur was the son of Sandro Luiz Lula da Silva, one of the former president's five sons.

The boy had twice visited his grandfather in prison in the southern city of Curitiba, some 250 miles (400 kilometers) from Sao Paulo, the country's southeastern business hub.

Lula's lawyers argued that by law, the former president - who served two terms and became a global icon of the left - was entitled to leave on compassionate grounds, having lost a close family member.

But Lula missed the funeral of his 79-year-old brother Vava in late January, when he died of cancer.

His request was initially denied by a lower court judge and by the time a Supreme Court justice approved it, his brother's funeral had already taken place.

"They didn't let me say my goodbyes to Vava out of pure spite," the president said afterwards, quoted in a party statement.

Police have spoken out against releasing the high-profile inmate, arguing they lacked the manpower to keep the highly divisive figure safe.

Last April, Lula, 73, began serving a 12-year sentence for taking a bribe in the form of a seaside apartment and for money laundering.

Last month, he received a separate sentence of almost 13 years for accepting renovation work by two construction companies on a farmhouse in exchange for ensuring they won contracts with the state-run oil company Petrobras.

Petrobras is at the center of a massive corruption scandal that has devastated the country's political and business elite.