After a dramatic all-day session, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled in the early hours of Thursday that former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva can be imprisoned by order of a federal trial judge. Lula was convicted of bribery and money laundering last year. The conviction was upheld by an appeals court in January.
The Supreme Court ruling authorizes trial judge Sergio Moro to issue an arrest warrant at any time. In practice, Moro is only likely to act after a regional appeals court completes action on a series of motions presented by Lula’s lawyers. According to legal experts, the motions are likely to be rejected sometime later this month, opening the way to an arrest warrant for the ex-President. The conviction carries a prison sentence of more than 12 years.
Impact on 2018 Elections
Despite his legal troubles, Lula has been actively campaigning for a return to the presidency in October elections. He has consistently polled support levels of more than 30%, making him the front runner in a crowded field. Under current electoral laws, however, Lula’s candidacy is likely to be ruled out by elections officials. Current laws bar convicted felons from running for office.
- Definition of electoral candidacies: July 20 to August 5
- Candidate applications due to the Electoral Court: By August 15
- Decision of the Electoral Court on Candidates: By September 17
- Due to the Courts’ decision, it is expected that Lula’s candidacy, if requested, will be denied.
- Denial decisions of the Electoral Court may be subject to appeals until September.
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