Brazil high court confirms annulment of ex-president Lula’s graft convictions

ex-president Lula
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

The path for a likely new presidential run by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva became clearer after Brazil’s top court backed one of its justices who had tossed out all criminal convictions against the leftist icon.

Seven of the court’s 11 justices voted in favor of the former president on Thursday, one month after Justice Edson Fachin ruled that the federal court in the southern city of Curitiba had no jurisdiction over cases against Lula. The vote was still ongoing.

The plenary of the Supreme Court was called to rule on the matter after Brazil’s top prosecutor appealed Fachin’s decision. The justices didn’t discuss whether Lula is guilty of corruption and money laundering — a conviction that landed him behind bars in 2017, and banned him from running in the 2018 election.

Since Fachin’s decision, lawsuits against Lula were sent to a federal court in Brasilia, the country’s capital, where they are expected to start from scratch. That makes it unlikely that new convictions could be made and upheld by an appeals court before next year’s presidential vote.

Lula is still a popular, albeit polarizing political figure. A survey carried out by Datafolha a few days after Fachin’s decision showed 57% of Brazilians considered convictions against Lula as fair, while 38% saw them as unfair. In a separate poll carried out by Ipec in March, 50% of the respondents said they may vote for Lula in next year if he runs, while only 38% said they could vote for President Jair Bolsonaro.

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