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Court orders arrest of Brazil's ex-president pending appeal of corruption conviction

06 April 2018

However, da Silva could appeal such a decision, though doing so from jail would be more complicated.

The country's top court began reviewing a petition by da Silva to stay out of prison while he continues to appeal a conviction for corruption.

After almost 11 hours of often heated debate, the justices of the Supreme Federal Tribunal voted 6-5 to deny da Silva's preventative habeas corpus request to stave off a 12-year jail sentence while he fights a conviction in a case that he argues was nothing more than a ploy to keep him off of October's presidential ballot.

Authorities in several cities braced for demonstrations for and against the ex-president, who leads in presidential election polls.

A defiant Workers Party, founded by Lula, said its supporters would take to the streets to defend his right to run. Under Brazilian electoral law, a candidate is forbidden from running for office for eight years after being found guilty of a crime.

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"He is calm, relaxed, with the clear conscience of an innocent person", said Gleisi Hoffmann, leader of the leftist Workers' Party founded by Lula after he rose from poverty as a trade union organizer during Brazil's 1964-85 dictatorship.

In a statement to O Globo, Gen. Joaquim Silva e Luna, the defense minister, said Boas' intention was to assure people that force would not be used.

"There is no way Lula can rebuild his career".

The Brazilian economy also ran into serious difficulties under Lula' s successor, ex-president Dilma Rousseff and society remains deeply divided over her impeachment on a legal technicality. "It is the end of a populist cycle in Brazil".

Supporters camped out around the home of Brazil's first working-class president while his closest allies huddled to reassemble a political strategy shattered by his corruption conviction. Experts say his chances of making it onto the ballot are slim to none - but some think that could work in his party's favor. I can't accept Lula out of the election.

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Opinion polls show that Gomes and environmentalist Marina Silva would gain the most from Lula not running in October. Extreme-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who is polling in second place, stands to lose with Lula gone, as his anti-left rhetoric would be without its main punching bag.

They have until Monday to file a final, purely technical appeal with the lower court that turned down Lula's first appeal in January.

But this does not necessarily mean that Lula will go to jail for 12 years.

Brazil's left is furious, seeing Lula's imminent imprisonment as a plot to prevent the Workers' Party from returning to power.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva: "Now, what is behind that is the attempt to criminalize my political party".

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Couto can not see the once-powerful Workers Party having a competitive candidate until it makes a public apology for getting caught up in the systemic corruption among Brazil's traditional political class.

Court orders arrest of Brazil's ex-president pending appeal of corruption conviction