Brazil's top court rejects ex-president's bid to avoid prison

06 April, 2018, 04:13 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Brazil's supreme court rules ex-President Lula can be jailed for corruption pending appeal

Lula oversaw years of robust growth and falling inequality during a commodity boom and has said he wants to run again for the presidency in October.

He had petitioned to be allowed to remain free while pursuing appeals in higher courts against his conviction for receiving a seaside apartment as a bribe from a construction company.

Lula was convicted a year ago for taking bribes from an engineering firm in return for help landing contracts with state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA).

Federal Judge Sergio Moro, who has handled the bulk of cases in Brazil's biggest anti-corruption effort, ordered Lula to turn himself in by late Friday afternoon. As of mid-August, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal will review candidates" eligibility forms, but it is widely expected to reject his bid under the "clean slate' law, which disqualifies anyone who has a criminal conviction upheld by an appeals court. In a court document, he wrote that Lula should not be handcuffed and would have a special cell in the southern city of Curitiba.

The prospect of an October election without Lula boosted Brazil's currency almost 1 percent higher and lifted the benchmark Bovespa stock index 2 percent as investors bet that a market-friendly centrist or center-right candidate will win the presidency. When he stepped down in 2011, his approval ratings were still in the 80s. Rousseff was impeached and removed from office in a corruption scandal and economic crisis in mid-2016.

In a statement to O Globo, Gen. Joaquim Silva e Luna, the defense minister, said Boas' intention was to assure people that force would not be used.

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Despite the conviction and several other corruption charges against him, da Silva leads all preference polls for the election. Extreme-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is polling in second place, stands to lose with Lula gone, as his anti-left rhetoric would be without its main punching bag.

Disarray on the left could improve the chances for a centrist such as Geraldo Alckmin, governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil's richest state, and candidate for the powerful Brazilian Social Democracy Party. Centre-right President Michel Temer has record unpopularity in opinion polls.

The former leader can continue to appeal. "I can't accept an innocent man being in prison", she said. "The law is the same for everyone".

The court's debate underscored how fraught the matter is at a time of high tension and angst in Brazil, which is struggling to emerge from a crippling recession and is four years into a major corruption scandal that has ensnared much of the country's elite, including da Silva.

05 de abril de 2018, 14:45Asuncion, Apr 5 (Prensa Latina) Judicial ruling against Lula puts Brazil " s and Latin America " s democracy at stake, Paraguayan senator Fernando Lugo assured today, referring to the decision that opens the doors to the arrest of the ex president of the neighboring country.

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