Brazilians rally to Lula after court orders him to prison
Demonstrators hold signs that say in Portuguese, "No prison for Lula," in Sao Paulo. | Andre Penner / AP

Tens of thousands of supporters of former president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva took to the streets across Brazil last night after the Supreme Court voted narrowly to send him to jail.

The court voted 6-5 to end his release on bail while he appeals against a 12-year sentence for corruption, effectively bringing an end to his re-election campaign.

Supreme Court president Carmen Lucia broke what had been a tied vote, rejecting Lula’s plea to remain free until he has exhausted all possible appeals.

Court justices deliberated for over 10 hours before reaching their final verdict. It is as yet unclear how soon Judge Sergio Moor, who sentenced Lula to nine years in prison last July for “passive corruption and money laundering,” will issue an arrest warrant.

An appeal court in Porto Alegre ratified Judge Moro’s sentence in January, extending it to 12 years and a month.

The left-wing leader is still Brazil’s most popular politician and is the front-runner for the presidential election due in October.

His Workers Party tweeted: “The Brazilian people have the right to vote for Lula, the candidate of hope. The Workers Party will defend this candidacy on the streets and in every court until the last consequences.”

Business groups and elements of Brazil’s discredited legal establishment had urged the court to abide by its own 2016 ruling that defendants can be jailed if a conviction is upheld on a first appeal.

Just hours before the court convened, army commander-in-chief Eduardo Villas-Boas told the right-wing Globo TV network that the armed forces “reject impunity” and demand “respect for the constitution, social peace, and democracy.”

His comments were seen as further pressure on the court, leading ousted president Dilma Rousseff to comment: “It’s unacceptable that Globo insists on repeating the past and inciting a coup.”

Maranhao state governor Flavio Dino said: “In no democracy on this planet does a commander-in-chief of the army speak in such a manner on the eve of an important Supreme Court ruling.”

Traditional Lula critic Justice Gilmar Mendes backed his petition to stay out of jail, challenging his colleagues to resist outside pressure, saying: “If a court bows, it might as well not exist.”

This article originally appeared in Morning Star.


Morning Star
Morning Star

Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. Morning Star es el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña.