Former Brazilian president Lula may stage a comeback following quashing of conviction on corruption charges

Lula was jailed in 2018 on charges of money laundering and bribery. He was subsequently blocked from that year’s presidential elections, paving the way for far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro’s victory

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva 
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Steve Sweeney

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could be set for a comeback after the country’s Supreme Court sensationally quashed his convictions for corruption on Monday.

The ruling, which annulled all four of Lula’s convictions, paves the way for the leftist to challenge far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in next year’s presidential elections.

Judge Edson Fachin ruled that the federal court in the southern city of Curitiba that had initially tried Lula did not have appropriate jurisdiction.

He found that the former president, who led Brazil between 2003 and 2010 as leader of the Workers’ Party, should be retried in a court in the capital Brasilia.

The ruling can be challenged by an appeal to the full Supreme Court and Brazil’s attorney general is already preparing the necessary papers to do so.

Mr Bolsonaro predictably hit out at the court’s decision. “Fachin has a strong connection with the Workers’ Party, so we are not surprised by the decision. But it will have to go through the plenary for it to be properly effective,” he said.

Lula was jailed for 12 years in 2018 on charges of money laundering and bribery. The conviction came as part of ‘Operation Car Wash’, an investigation into widespread corruption allegations against Brazil’s ruling elite.

He was subsequently blocked from standing in that year’s presidential elections, paving the way for Bolsonaro’s victory.

Lula has always denied the allegations against him. His lawyers and the Workers’ Party say they are a form of ‘lawfare’ – politically motivated litigation – used to keep him out of office.

The judge who convicted him, Sergio Moro, was accused of colluding with prosecutors in ensuring that the popular former trade union leader was jailed.

Soon afterwards, Moro was appointed as minister of justice by Bolsonaro. He has since resigned in a spat with the president over his interference in police matters.

Lula was released in 2019 pending appeal but was stripped of his political rights. He retains huge popularity in Brazil, while Bolsonaro’s approval rates have fallen drastically due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

A return to power for Lula would be another success for the left in Latin America.

Leftist candidate Andres Arauz is on course to win in Ecuador’s presidential elections, while Bolivia’s ‘Movement Towards Socialism’ party swept to landslide victories in the presidential and parliamentary elections last year — a year after a Washington-backed coup.

(IPA Service)

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