The Supreme Federal Court of Brazil rejected on Wednesday the habeas corpus appeal of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is destined to enter prison to serve his sentence for corruption.
The highest court of that country, by 6 votes to 5, thus decided to reject the president’s request to remain at liberty while exhausting the remedies available against his sentence to 12 years in prison.
With 5 votes to 5, was the president of the court, Carmen Lucia, the one in charge of undoing the tie. And he did so by voting against Lula’s freedom because postponing the execution of the sentence “could lead to impunity.”
The judges, whose debate was broadcast live on television, took more than ten hours to make their decision in a case that has deeply divided Brazilian society.
Supporters and detractors of the exmandatario have made demonstrations in recent days in several cities of the country pending the decision of the Federal Supreme Court.
For the conservatives, Lula is the face of the plague of corruption that affects the country’s political elite.
For the left, Lula is a hero whose presidency between 2003 and 2010 served to reduce the levels of poverty and is the victim of a judicial system that overlooks other corruption scandals, such as the accusations against President Michel Temer.
The case has even left doubts about the state of health of the Brazilian democracy after the controversial message from the Army commander urging the former president to enter the prison.
“I assure the nation that the Brazilian Army considers sharing the desire of all citizens to repudiate impunity and respect the Constitution, social peace and democracy,” General Eduardo Villas Boas wrote on Twitter.
In 2016, the STF had decided that the convicts should begin to serve their sentences once the courts of appeal upheld the first instance sentences.
Similarly, investigators of the so-called Operation Lava Jato (Washing of Cars), which is part of the trial of Lula, have indicated that for the continuity of the investigations it is important that the defendants begin the fulfillment of their sentences after having been convicted in second instance.
In January, judges in the appellate court said the former president had broken the law by taking bribes worth US $ 1.1 million from the construction company OAS, one of the companies involved in the “Lava Jato” scandal.
Lula, who remains Brazil’s most popular politician, aspires to run in the presidential elections of October 2018.
However, he will have difficulties to do so if the sentence for corruption against him is maintained because it would leave him disqualified from holding public office.
Lula was convicted of passive corruption and money laundering, after being found guilty in July 2017 of accepting bribes for US $ 1.1 million from the OAS builder.
In January, after the appeal, the Federal Regional Court of the Fourth Region ratified the sentence unanimously and increased the sentence to twelve years and one month in prison.
The money would have been used to renovate and furnish a three-story luxury apartment (triplex) in the coastal town of Guarujá, in the state of Sao Paulo.
Although Lula denied at all times being the owner of that property that is formally registered in the name of OAS, during the trial the prosecutors pointed out that “several tests say otherwise”, including testimony from the goal, a receiver and two OAS engineers.
This is not the only case against the exmandatario. In 2016, the researchers revealed that they were investigating another property: a rest home in the town of Atibaia, which was reformed with funding from OAS and the construction company Odebrecht.
The authorities also investigate other payments related to the Lula Institute and to companies that have the former president’s children as partners.
Lula came to power in Brazil on January 1, 2003 and left the Planalto palace in early 2011, when he handed over the presidency to Dilma Rousseff.
During his rule, the economy grew and tens of millions of Brazilians rose to the middle class, an achievement that his supporters attribute to his policies but which his adversaries consider was the result of a cycle of high prices in raw materials that benefited Brazil.
In any case, Lula left the presidency with a high popularity and a good international image thanks to which he obtained numerous awards such as having been named in 2009 “character of the year” by the French newspaper Le Monde and the Spanish El País, and ” protagonist of the decade “by the British Financial Times .
Similarly, in 2010, the American magazine Time selected him as the most influential personality in the world.
In 2016, after the start of the legal proceedings against him, Lula showed signs of intending to return to the front line of the political struggle.
“If they want to defeat me, they’re going to have to face me in the streets of this country,” he said at a rally.
Last January, Lula ratified his presidential aspirations for this year’s elections to which he will go with the support of the Workers’ Party and being, at least according to the opinion polls so far, the most popular candidate.
That, of course, if it is not disabled by the trials against him.
You may also like this
- What can be behind Kim Jong-un’s visit to China
- Rajoy takes the reins of the negotiation of the Budgets
- 5 reasons that make presidential elections in Mexico historic
- Al Sisi is re-elected as president of Egypt with 97% of the votes
- pro-government candidate Carlos Alvarado Quesada wins the presidency in elections