Lula re­leased:

Po­lit­i­cally charged supreme court rul­ing could free other high-pro­file pris­on­ers De­ci­sion lat­est blow for be­lea­guered Brazil­ian anti-cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions

The Irish Times - - Front Page - TOM HENNIGAN in Sao Paulo

A fed­eral judge last night or­dered the re­lease of for­mer Brazil­ian pres­i­dent Luiz Iná­cio Lula da Silva:

‘‘ Brazil’s first work­ing class pres­i­dent, Lula has been con­victed in two cor­rup­tion tri­als and faces sev­eral more cases re­lat­ing to mas­sive kick-back schemes

A Brazil­ian fed­eral judge has or­dered the im­me­di­ate re­lease of for­mer pres­i­dent Luiz Iná­cio Lula da Silva af­ter the coun­try’s supreme court paved the way for the move with a con­tro­ver­sial rul­ing.

Sup­port­ers of the jailed leader were gath­ered at the po­lice build­ing in the south­ern city of Cu­ritiba in ex­pec­ta­tion of him emerg­ing from the build­ing where he has been held since his de­ten­tion in April of last year.

The judge’s de­ci­sion fol­lowed a highly po­larised and politi­cised supreme court de­bate on Thurs­day night in which the court re­versed its own ju­rispru­dence and ruled peo­ple con­victed of crimes should only start serv­ing their sen­tence af­ter they had ex­hausted the ap­peal process.

First ap­peal

The six-to-five de­ci­sion over­turned the court’s own 2016 rul­ing that sen­tences could start af­ter con­victed crim­i­nals lose their first ap­peal.

An es­ti­mated 5,000 peo­ple could now be in line for re­lease from pri­son as a re­sult. The most high-pro­file of them is Lula who was in­car­cer­ated af­ter his ap­peal against a con­vic­tion in a bribery case failed.

A leader for Lula’s Work­ers Party in congress said the for for­mer pres­i­dent would now at­tend the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Ar­gentina’s pres­i­dent-elect Al­berto Fernán­dez on De­cem­ber 10th in Buenos Aires.

Mr Fernán­dez sup­ported the cam­paign for Lula’s free­dom, spark­ing a diplo­matic spat with Brazil’s far-right pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro, who has re­fused to con­grat­u­late him on his vic­tory and says he will not at­tend the in­au­gu­ra­tion.

Brazil’s first work­ing-class pres­i­dent, Lula has been con­victed in two cor­rup­tion tri­als and faces sev­eral more cases re­lat­ing to the dis­cov­ery of mul­ti­ple mas­sive kick­back schemes that op­er­ated dur­ing his eight years in of­fice which ended in 2010.

Thurs­day’s rul­ing is the lat­est blow for the coun­try’s in­creas­ingly be­lea­guered anti-cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions which had suf­fered a series of re­cent re­ver­sals in the coun­try’s top court.

Cor­rupt politi­cians

Its lat­est de­ci­sion was in­ter­preted by many ju­rists as a boon to cor­rupt politi­cians and white-col­lar crim­i­nals who have the fi­nan­cial and le­gal means to tie up cases in the coun­try’s scle­rotic higher courts for years or even decades while they re­main at lib­erty.

But oth­ers said the rul­ing re­stores the in­tent of the 1988 con­sti­tu­tion which gave sweep­ing rights to de­fen­dants in the af­ter­math of the coun­try’s re­pres­sive 21-year dic­ta­tor­ship, which ended in 1985.

Fol­low­ing the supreme court de­ci­sion, the chair­woman of the Brazil­ian Se­nate’s jus­tice com­mit­tee said she would ta­ble a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment at its next ses­sion that would en­able the car­ry­ing out of sen­tences af­ter they had been con­firmed on first ap­peal.

But with many mem­bers of congress fac­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions or charges for a wide range of crimes such a pro­posal is likely to face stiff re­sis­tance.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.