Lula given 24 hours to start prison sentence

by Antonio Miles April 7, 2018, 0:35
Lula given 24 hours to start prison sentence

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, will begin his 12 year prison term from Friday, after a judge gave him 24 hours to surrender to police.

Moro's warrant on Thursday evening came after Brazil's top court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal, voted 6-5 to deny a request by the former president to stay out of prison while he appealed a conviction that he contends was simply a way to keep him off the ballot in October's election.

Left-wing sympathizers, remembering Lula's achievement in lifting tens of millions out of poverty during his 2003-2011 years in office, see a plot created to prevent him becoming president again.

A candidate is forbidden by law from running for elected office for eight years if convicted of a crime.

Lula was convicted previous year of receiving a seaside apartment as a bribe from a construction company.

The order was given on Thursday after the country's Supreme Court ruled that Lula da Silva must start serving a 12-year jail sentence for corruption, a move that may end his political career, reports CNN.

But the Supreme Court ruled in a tense, almost 11-hour session by 6-5 that because the 72-year-old has already lost a lower court appeal against his conviction, he must begin the sentence.

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"Lula remains a candidate because he is innocent and imprisoning him would be an act of violence", the Workers' Party quoted its president, Gleisi Hoffmann, as saying. In previous polls, Lula enjoyed a clear lead over his potential rivals.

For his part, the French newspaper Le Monde published a profile of Lula in which he recalled his popularity and charisma, to evoke the phrase "is the most popular politician in the world", pronounced in 2009 by the then United States president, Barack Obama.

His Workers' Party said the ruling was a "tragic day for democracy and Brazil".

His legal team, which lost their last-minute appeal to a higher court, argued they had not exhausted procedural appeals and painted the case as an effort to remove Lula from the presidential race he is leading. But on the left, where Lula retains fervent backing, the Supreme Court ruling is seen as part of a right-wing coup meant to destroy the Workers' Party and maintain the current, deeply unpopular elite in power.

Lula's downfall has been as stunning as the unprecedented corruption probes that have convulsed Brazil for the last four years, jailing dozens of politicians and business leaders long considered above the law.

Earlier on Thursday, the head of the Workers' Party insisted that Da Silva, 72, would be the party's candidate in October. In August, the country's top electoral court makes final decisions about candidacies.

Da Silva's protégé, former President Rousseff, was herself ousted in 2016 for manipulating the federal budget to hide the nation's growing economic crisis.

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