Hindustan Times (Ranchi) - - Front Page -

SAO PAULO: Brazil’s supreme court has de­liv­ered a rul­ing that could re­lease al­most 5,000 in­mates still ap­peal­ing their con­vic­tions, in­clud­ing for­mer pres­i­dent Luiz Iná­cio Lula da Silva and other pow­er­ful fig­ures jailed in a sprawl­ing cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The court de­cided in a 6-5 vote late Thurs­day that a per­son can be im­pris­oned only af­ter all ap­peals to higher courts have been ex­hausted.

The de­ci­sion ap­pears to cover Da Silva, whose at­tor­neys said they will re­quest his re­lease Fri­day. That move will ini­tially de­pend on a judge based in the south­ern city of Cu­ritiba, where the for­mer pres­i­dent is jailed.

The rul­ing also cov­ers oth­ers con­victed in cases aris­ing from the so-called Car Wash in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which has en­snared dozens of top politi­cians and busi­ness lead­ers in Latin Amer­ica’s largest na­tion. They will now be able to seek re­lease.

Pros­e­cu­tors from the Car Wash probe said in a state­ment the top court’s de­ci­sion “goes against the sen­ti­ment of re­pu­di­at­ing im­punity and the fight against cor­rup­tion.” Sup­port­ers of Da Silva cel­e­brated the rul­ing, hold­ing up signs say­ing “Lula”, the name by which the pres­i­dent who gov­erned from 2003 to 2010 is uni­ver­sally known here.

The court’s de­bate be­gan in mid-Oc­to­ber and its re­sult could throw Brazil’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape into un­cer­tainty. Da Silva had been favoured to win the 2018 elec­tion, but his con­vic­tion pro­hib­ited him from run­ning. He still re­mains a highly pop­u­lar fig­ure on the left.

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