Ex-Brazilian President Lula released from prison (Lead)
Saturday - November 9, 2019 10:32 am , Category : WORLD
Brasilia, Nov 9 (IANS) Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was freed from prison where he as held since April 2018, after a Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for his release.Lula's defence team on Friday morning had requested that he be freed after the court, in a 6-5 decision on Thursday night, ruled that defendants convicted of crimes cannot be imprisoned until they have exhausted all of their appeals, reports Efe news. Lula was one of the some 5,000 inmates who could benefit from the high court's decision.Danilo Pereira Jr., a criminal court judge in Curitiba, analyzed the petition and authorized the former head of state's release. In April 2018, the former President began serving a sentence of more than 12 years (later reduced to eight years and 10 months) for allegedly accepting bribes from Brazilian construction company OAS, one of the companies embroiled in a $2 billion corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras.He had been convicted in July 2017 of accepting bribes from OAS in the form of renovations to a seaside condo in Sao Paolo state that the former two-term President never owned or occupied.The case was based largely on plea-bargained testimony from people already convicted of corruption offences. On January 24, 2018, an appeals court voted unanimously to uphold that earlier verdict and increase Lula's prison sentence to 12 years and one month.Two months later, that same court rejected his appeal of its own earlier decision.Then on April 4, 2018, in an earlier review of the same legal question tackled on Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that Lula could be imprisoned while continuing to appeal his corruption conviction.The former head of state also was convicted by federal Judge Gabriela Hardt in another corruption case in February of this year and sentenced to 12 years and 11 months behind bars.In that second case, the former President was found to have illegally benefited from property renovations carried out by construction companies that received inflated contracts from Petrobras during Lula's 2003-2011 tenure.Again, Lula never owned the property in question.His incarceration led to his being barred from the 2018 presidential election amid polls showing that he would have won by a wide margin.Lula's exclusion from that balloting paved the way for right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro - a professed admirer of Brazil's 1964-1985 military regime - to win the presidency.Despite Lula's release, he will not be able to run for office again unless he is able to get his criminal conviction overturned.A member of Lula's legal team, Cristiano Zanin Martins, said on June 11 that he and his colleagues will use the conversations to buttress their case for overturning the former President's conviction.The team expects the Supreme Court to rule on the habeas corpus motions already filed questioning the impartiality of the trial, the attorney said.