April 5 (UPI) — After nearly 11 hours of deliberation, Brazil’s Supreme Court rejected former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s plea to stay out of jail while appealing a corruption case that may sink his bid to recapture the presidency.
Brazil’s high court rejected Lula’s plea by a vote of 6-5, a decision that could end his political career and could send him to jail immediately.
Sergio Moro, the judge who prosecuted Lula, can authorize his detention pending a suggested one- or two-week delay.
“The presumption of innocence, this fundamental right, which will fatally come back for all, was not worth today for Lula,” Gleisi Hoffmann, the national president of Lula’s Workers’ Party, tweeted after the decision. “A sad day for democracy and for Brazil!”
Lula, currently a frontrunner in October’s presidential election, had said he’s innocent of the charges against him, saying they are politically motivated. By law, no one convicted of a criminal charge upheld on appeal can run for elected office for at least eight years.
However, numerous exceptions to the law, known as the “clean slate,” have been made since its introduction in 2010. The decision of Lula’s eligibility to run for president rests with Brazil’s top electoral court, TSE.
Lula was Brazil’s president until 2010 and had an approval rating of more than 80 percent. He was ultimately indicted for corruption and money laundering in a government and business scandal known as Operation Car Wash.
Investigators examined allegations that Brazilian construction companies overcharged the state oil company for building contracts. Lula was found guilty of accepting $1.1 million in bribes.
An appeals court upheld the initial verdict and increased his sentence to 12 and-a-half years.
The former president oversaw a period of sustainable economic growth, with his social policies helping lift millions of people out of poverty. Despite his conviction and six separate pending corruption trials, Lula was leading opinion polls ahead of the October vote.