Brazil’s full supreme court upheld a decision on Thursday, annulling former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s corruption convictions, clearing the way for him to fight for a new presidency next year.
In an 8-3 decision, the court upheld Edson Fachin’s decision on March 8, which overturned Lula’s convictions on procedural grounds, which has sustained Brazilian policy as right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro emerges to seek re-election in October 2022.
“Thank you to the Brazilian people! #LulaInnocent, “the left-wing Labor Party wrote on Twitter.
The decision, which was made on procedural grounds, does not find Lula innocent. But it essentially puts prosecutors back in the first place by sending the cases to another court.
Lula, the popular but wounded leftist who led Brazil through an economic boom from 2003 to 2010, was arrested in 2018 on charges of taking bribes from companies seeking juicy contracts with state oil giant Petrobras.
The fall fell to him just as he was preparing to seek a new presidency, in the election Bolsonaro finally won.
Lula claims that he is innocent and that the case against him was a conspiracy to put him out of politics.
“A historic day. It took a long time, but it came, “tweeted the president of Lula’s party, Gleisi Hoffmann.
“Thank you to everyone who stood by us during this struggle.”
Judge accused of bias
The allegations against Lula grew out of “Operation Car Wash”, an investigation that blew off the lid of a massive corruption program in which top politicians and business leaders systematically abolished billions of dollars from Petrobras.
Fachin ruled that the court in the southern state of Parana, which handled the Car Wash cases, had no jurisdiction over Lula’s allegations because they were not directly related to the Petrobras system.
He ordered the four cases – two judgments and two ongoing judgments – to be transferred to another court in Brasilia.
Prosecutors had asked the Supreme Court to at least reinstate the two convictions, claiming that they were legally sound and that Lula was “appointed head” of the Petrobras system – an accusation they have struggled to attach to him in court.
Lula spent 18 months in prison before being released in 2019 pending an appeal.
The entire Supreme Court is also due to prosecutors appealing a decision that found that the leading Car Wash judge, Sergio Moro, was biased in sentencing Lula.
They discussed that case next Thursday.
Moro controversially accepted the post of Minister of Justice in Bolsonaro’s government when the latter won the 2018 election.
It drove accusations that he collaborated to take Lula and get Bolsonaro elected.
Moro later clashed with Bolsonaro, accusing the president of meddling in federal police investigations. He resigned in April 2020.