The decision raises the possibility of the former President being sent to jail.
By Zoe PC / The Dawn News / April 5, 2018
On Wednesday, April 4, the Supreme Court of Brazil (STF), after a 10-hour sitting, rejected the habeas corpus presented by ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s defense, opening up the possibility that he could go to prison. The habeas corpus would have permitted Lula to remain free while he appeals his criminal conviction in a corruption case for which he has been sentenced to 12 years of prison. This case has taken a central role in the run-up to the Brazilian presidential elections which will be held in August 2018, as the ex-president has consistently been projected as the favorite in the polls.
Lula’s party, the Workers’ Party of Brazil, released a statement soon after the decision, saying, “Today is a tragic day for democracy and for Brazil”. Pointing out that the constitution had been torn apart by those sworn to defend it, the party criticized not only the denial of the habeas corpus but also the entire legal process that has been full of inconsistencies, and clearly politicized and partial judgements. Noting that the conviction is not supported by evidence, the statement said:
There is no justice in this decision. There is a combination of political and economic interests, against a country and its sovereignty, against a democratic process, against the Brazilian people. The nation and the international community know that Lula was condemned without evidence, in an illegal process where notoriously partial judges have not even been able to characterize the occurrence of the crime. Lula is innocent and this will be proclaimed in a just trial. The Brazilian people have the right to vote for Lula, the candidate of hope. The PT will defend his candidacy in the streets and in all of the instances, until the final consequences. He who has the force of the people, who has the truth on their side, knows that Justice will still prevail.
If Lula’s appeal of his conviction is rejected before the election, he will not be able to contest. Many observers see the entire legal process as a means to prevent him from coming back to power.
Days prior to this decision, on Sunday April 1, the General of the Brazilian Reserve Army Luiz Gonzaga Schroeder Lessa had threatened an armed response if the court approved the defense’s request for habeas corpus and allows Lula to become a candidate, stating “it will be the duty of the armed force to restore order”.
While the Supreme Court deliberated, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Brazil to reject what the see as right-wing attacks on Brazilian democracy and their right to elect whom they choose. This is a continuation of months of action by people in Brazil and Latin America, who see the prosecution of Lula as part of a coup that began in 2016 and also led to the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.