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Thursday, April 5, 2018

The odds are not in favor for Lula

Por Damian

Brazil's highest court judges seemed this week to reject a request by former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva through which he intends to avoid the prison while appealing a twelve-year sentence for corruption, a fact that could affect in a serious way the stability on the country before October´s elections.

Lula leads the polls despite his conviction and several additional corruption allegations awaiting trial. The Federal Supreme Court's decision to allow a lower court to compel the ex-leader to begin serving his sentence could ruin his candidacy and generate protests at a time of high tensions in the largest country in Latin America.

Six hours after the session began, four judges had voted against Lula and one in favor. The matter will be decided once six of the 11 members vote in a certain way. The session was expected to continue and leave more details soon.

Judge Gilmar Mendes, who voted in favor of Lula's request not to enter prison, argued that the court could not make decisions based on public opinion. “If a court yields (under pressure), it may not exist," said Mendes. On the other hand, Judge Luis Roberto Barros argued that the integrity of the judicial system is at stake. "A criminal system that does not work with minimum effectiveness favors the development of the instinct to do justice by one's own hand", said Barros, who voted against the petition.

Judge Rosa Weber, who according to legal analysts could be crucial because there are many doubts about her position on the issue, voted against Lula.

General Eduardo Villas Boas published two tweets on Tuesday night that many interpreted as a way to put pressure on the 11 judges of the Supreme Federal Court and a veiled threat of intervention. These concerns are taken seriously in a country that had a military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

"In the current situation in Brazil, it is worth asking to our institutions and the people: who are really thinking about what is best for the country and future generations, and who only care about their personal interest?” he wrote in a tweet.

Lula, who enjoyed immense popularity after two terms as head of the country between 2003 and 2010, has become a controversial character amid a corruption scandal that has shaken Brazil in recent years and has angered the average citizen against the political class.