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Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, pictured here during an anniversary commemoration of his Workers Party (PT) in Sao Paulo, is battling a conviction on corruption charges- Photo: AFP
A Brazilian court on Monday rejected former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s latest appeal against a corruption conviction that could see him sent to prison for 12 years and prevented from making a political comeback.
The three judges at the lower appeals court in Porto Alegre unanimously turned down Lula’s appeal on technical issues to his conviction and sentencing, the official Agencia Brasil reported.
In theory, the ruling meant Lula might have been ordered immediately to begin his sentence of 12 years and one month for accepting a luxury seaside apartment as a bribe from a construction company seeking contracts with state-controlled oil giant Petrobras.
However, Lula was handed a temporary get-out-of-jail card last week by the Supreme Court, while it considers his claim that he should be free until he has exhausted options at higher appeals courts.
The Supreme Court said it will rule on this on April 4th, and that until then Lula can remain at liberty.
The 72-year-old, who faces six other corruption cases, says the legal onslaught is part of a politicized campaign to prevent him from running in October’s presidential election.
Lula has surprised many by holding a huge lead in opinion polls, which shows he would win what is shaping up to be an unusually turbulent contest.
The other threat to Lula’s comeback is a Brazilian law barring candidates with criminal convictions from seeking public office. However, even this is in question and could end up becoming another prolonged court battle.
Brazilian media reports say that Lula’s strategy will be to keep campaigning for as long as possible — even from behind bars — in order to maximize his impact on the campaign.
If barred from being on the ballot, he’d then endorse a replacement at the last possible minute, according to media reports.
In polling, the two-term former president would come on top in a first round of the election and win the runoff against any other currently expected challenger.
However, he also has high rejection ratings and is blamed by the right and many in the center for Brazil’s slide into the mammoth “Car Wash” corruption scandal that has shaken the country over the last four years.
On Sunday, Lula and his entourage were pelted with eggs and stones while on a campaign stop in the south of the country, his staff said.Source: AFP