Brazil’s ex-president Lula loses bribery appeal
He had been expected to run for president again later this year
Three judges in Brazil have upheld the conviction of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, “a ruling that could prove vital to Brazil's political future”, says the BBC.
Universally known as Lula, the former steel worker and union boss, who ruled Brazil during the 2000s and left office in 2011 with sky-high approval ratings, has announced his intention to run for another term as president in elections on 7 October. If he had, the polls had given him a good chance of victory: his support was twice that of his nearest rival.
But the unanimous decision by three judges to dismiss his appeal against a conviction for corruption and money laundering will almost certainly put a stop to his campaign.
“Although Mr Lula da Silva is likely to file further appeals in higher courts,” says the Financial Times, “he has limited time to overturn the ruling in Brazil’s slow-moving justice system before the country’s election tribunal announces the official candidates in August.”
Unless he can overturn the conviction, Lula faces nine-and-a-half-years in prison.
Bribes for contracts
His conviction was linked to Brazil's biggest-ever corruption scandal, Operation Car Wash, which has implicated more than 80 politicians and leading businessmen since it was launched in 2014.
Lula claims the charges that he accepted bribes in return for help winning contracts for state oil company Petrobas were a ploy to prevent him from running for office, “but critics insist he is a hypocrite - and a symbol of endemic political corruption”, reports the BBC.
His protege, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached last year following allegations she manipulated budget figures in the run up to her re-election.
Lula now faces a showdown which will leave him either in the presidential palace or behind bars. Either way, many fear whatever the court decides, pro or anti-Lulu supporters will use it as an excuse to launch a wave of violence across the country.