Lula faces another judicial crossroads to avoid jail

Ⓒ AFP – Nelson Almeida – | Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, interviewed on March 1, 2018 at his Institute in Sao Paulo

The Superior Court of Justice (STJ) of Brazil will examine a preventive habeas corpus petition on Tuesday to prevent former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from being arrested for serving his sentence of 12 years and a month in jail for corruption.

The STJ has the final word in all civil and criminal litigation that does not involve constitutional issues; his ruling can be decisive to know if Lula will be detained or he will be able to continue resorting to freedom when he finishes the appeals of second instance.

With 72 years and favorite to win the October elections, the central figure of the Brazilian left was sentenced in 2017 to nine and a half years in prison for accepting a luxury apartment from a construction company involved in bribes to politicians in the Petrobras case.

The defense of the exmandatario (2003-2010) appealed, but the sentence was ratified unanimously in January by the Federal Regional Court No. 4 (TRF4), second instance, which also extended the sentence to 12 years and one month of confinement.

The exmandatario, that affirms to be victim of a persecution to avoid that it returns to the power, returned to deny those positions to few hours of the judgment in the STJ.

“The day that the police or the General Prosecutor’s Office prove that I received a single real I will leave public life,” he said in an interview with radio Metrópole, from the state of Bahia.

“This process is as if we were still in the times of the Inquisition, where proofs were not needed, just convictions,” he added.

– Land of resources –

On Monday night, the defense of Lula received another bad news, when the Federal Public Ministry (prosecutor general) requested that once the appeal was heard in the second instance it corroborates “the immediate beginning of compliance with the penalty.”

With the clock against, Lula’s lawyers appealed to the TRF4 and filed habeas corpus preventive to the STJ – the third and penultimate instance of the Brazilian legal system – which will be debated on Tuesday by the five magistrates of the criminal area of ​​that court.

Discussions will begin at 1:00 pm local time (4:00 pm GMT).

If they choose to follow the same line as their STJ colleague, Judge Humberto Martins, who denied it in January before sending him to the plenary for a collegial decision, it will only be known when the appeal ends in the TRF4 to find out if Lula is in jail.

The union ex-leader admitted that he thinks “every day” about the possibility of going to jail, despite proclaiming himself innocent of all the charges against him in the seven criminal trials he faces in Brazil.

“If they convicted me and imprisoned me, they would be condemning an innocent, that has a historical price, if they want to make that decision, they will have to bear the responsibility of what happens in this country,” he added in an interview last week. to the AFP.

Tuesday’s decision will be limited to habeas corpus and will not block other legal tools that could question the substance of the sentence, even before the Supreme Federal Court (Supreme Court), which is responsible for possible violations of the constitutional rights of the citizens.

In fact, Lula’s legal team has already presented another preventive habeas corpus to the supreme court so that he can remain free. That appeal was also rejected preliminarily and is pending consideration by the plenary.

In parallel to the criminal courts, the electoral justice could prevent Lula from running for the October elections, for having a conviction ratified in the second instance.

“I hope that the people who are going to judge me today in the STJ read the process, read the accusations and the defense and allow the people to judge me in October,” the exmandatario said in his radio statements.

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