The Borneo Post (Sabah)
Brazil Supreme Court confirms annulment of Lula da Silva’s graft convictions
BRASÍLIA: Brazil’s full Supreme Court upheld a ruling Thursday annulling former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s corruption convictions, clearing the way for him to run for a new presidential term next year.
In an 8-3 ruling, the court upheld Justice Edson Fachin’s March 8 decision quashing Lula’s convictions on procedural grounds, which has upended Brazilian politics as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro gears up to seek reelection.
The ruling does not find Lula innocent. But it essentially puts prosecutors back to square one by sending the cases to another court.
In the meantime, Lula, the popular but tarnished leftist who led Brazil through an economic boom from 2003 to 2010, has emerged as the top contender to unseat Bolsonaro in the October 2022 elections.
In an interview with Argentine television station C5N, the steelworker-turned-president said his lawyers proved the convictions against him were “a sham.”
The 75-year-old has not officially declared himself a candidate but said “if necessary,” he would run to defeat “a fascist like Bolsonaro,” who he blamed for the “genocide” of the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil.
“I am in good health. But it does not necessarily have to be me. We can choose someone who can represent the progressive sectors of Brazil,” he added.
Bolsonaro said the ruling means “Lula is now a candidate” for 2022 – and ominously warned of the consequences.
“Look what Brazil’s future is
I am in good health. But it does not necessarily have to be me. We can choose someone who can represent the progressive sectors of Brazil. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
going to be like with the kind of people he’d bring into the presidency,” he said in his weekly live address on Facebook.
“You can all draw your own conclusions.”
Polls put Lula neck-and-neck with 66-year-old Bolsonaro, and in some cases ahead.
Lula was jailed in 2018 on charges of taking bribes from companies seeking juicy contracts at state oil giant Petrobras.
Prosecutors say he accepted gifts including a triplex beach apartment and renovations at a ranch property in exchange for greasing companies’ access to contracts with the state oil company.
The cases felled him just as he was gearing up to seek a new presidential term, in elections Bolsonaro ultimately won.
Lula has always maintained he is innocent and that the cases against him were a conspiracy to sideline him politically.
Lula spent 18 months in jail before being freed in 2019 pending appeal. — AFP