Brazilian Justice Authorizes Release of Former President Lula

The former head of state, sentenced in the "Lava Jato" case, has been imprisoned since April 2018 for corruption.

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A demonstration in front of the premises of the Brazilian police, where incarcerated former President Lula, Friday, November 8. RODOLFO BUHRER / REUTERS

On Friday, November 8, Brazilian justice authorized the release of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), sentenced to eight years and ten months in prison after a controversial trial for corruption in the "Lava Jato "(" express wash "). Agence France-Presse (AFP) was able to consult its release order.

The former head of state had won a decisive legal victory on Thursday at the announcement of a decision of the Supreme Court ruling unconstitutional jurisprudence that a convict can be imprisoned before the exhaustion of all its appeal if his conviction has been confirmed on appeal.

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Approved by six votes to five, the decision bury a measure put in place three years ago that contributed to the success of the anti-corruption investigation "Lava Jato". The survey focuses on construction and public works (BTP) companies that bribed political leaders and former national executives in exchange for contracts with the national oil company Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras). ) and with other companies. Lula was accused of having enjoyed a triplex in the seaside resort of Guaruja, near Sao Paulo, in exchange for contracts awarded to a construction company.

The prospect of being jailed immediately after losing a first appeal trial encouraged the suspects to negotiate plea bargain agreements with prosecutors by providing them with information as part of the anti-corruption investigation. The president of the Supreme Court, Jose Antonio Dias Toffoli, whose voice was decisive, said that the releases would not be automatic but decided by the courts on a case by case basis.

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A big setback to the fight against corruption

Judge Sergio Moro, who led the investigation "Lava Jato" before becoming Minister of Justice of the government of Jair Bolsonaro, warned before the decision of the Supreme Court that to reconsider this interpretation of the penal code would be a great setback the fight against corruption.

Prosecutors of "Lava Jato" lamented a decision that will complicate their task and promote impunity because of appeal procedures "Excessive" of the Brazilian judicial system. The Workers Party (PT), from which Lula came, hailed the Supreme Court's ruling. Its president, Gleisi Hoffmann, described it as"Very important step to strengthen democracy and the Constitution at a time when they are threatened by a far-right government".

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According to the National Council of Justice, nearly 4,900 people could potentially benefit from this judgment. The Brazilian Bar argued that mandatory prison violates the Constitution by failing to respect the accused's presumption of innocence throughout the appeal process.

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