Brazil: Lifting early prison rule may free ex-president


Brazil’s Supreme Court has decided to end the mandatory imprisonment of convicted criminals after they lose their first appeal, which may lead to the release of dozens of high-profile convicts, including former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“The plenary of the Supreme Court considers that imprisonment based solely on a criminal conviction can only take place after all the possibilities of appeal have been finalized,” the court said in a Twitter statement Thursday.

It was accepted by the court with six votes in favor and five against.

Lula’s defense will submit a request for immediate release after holding a meeting with him on Friday, according to the Caracas based TV channel TeleSur.

“Lula has not committed any crime and is a victim of the law, which, in the case of the former president, is the strategic use of the law for the purpose of political persecution,” the lawyers said.

Following the rule change, Lula’s lawyers reported they plan to meet him Friday, and then submit a request for immediate release.

The iconic leader of the Worker’s Party has been serving a 12-year sentence since 2018 on corruption charges in which executives of the state-run Petrobas oil company are accused of accepting bribes to award construction contracts.

Lula, who ruled Brazil in 2003-2010, was set to confront current President Jair Bolsonaro in an election last year but was blocked by then-judge Sergio Moro who is now justice minister in the Bolsonaro government.

Lula was leading the opinion polls in the run-up to the election, according to local media reports.
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