He had been required to hand himself over by 5 pm local time, but had failed to do so. He was reportedly holed up in the metal workers union building in his hometown Sao Bernardo do Campo, surrounded by supporters.

A demonstrator holds up a sign that reads in Portuguese
A demonstrator holds up a sign that reads in Portuguese "Lula, a thief's place is in prison" during a protest against Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in front of the Federal Police Department in Curitiba, Brazil, April 6. (AP)

Ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the controversial frontrunner in Brazil's October presidential election, ignored a deadline on Friday to surrender and start a 12-year prison sentence for corruption.

Lula was ordered to surrender by 5 pm (2000 GMT)  to police in the city of Curitiba to begin serving a sentence of 12 years and one month for a corruption conviction.

However, he remained holed up in the metal workers union building in his hometown Sao Bernardo do Campo, surrounded by supporters.

TRT World's Steve Mort reports.

Lula was convicted last year of receiving a seaside apartment as a bribe from a construction company. A lower court appeal against the conviction was rejected this January.

On Wednesday, Lula petitioned the Supreme Court to be allowed to remain free while pursuing appeals in higher courts. But the Supreme Court judges ruled 6-5 in a marathon session that under the law, Lula must begin his sentence after having lost that first appeal.

Federal judge Sergio Moro, seen by many in Brazil as a crusader against endemic graft, ordered da Silva to turn himself in to the police in Curitiba, about 417 kilometres (260 miles) southwest of the Sao Paulo suburb of Sao Bernardo do Campo.

Source: AFP