Brazil's popular former President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva is appealing his 12-year sentence for corruption on "technical grounds."
Lula, who is campaigning to reclaim the presidency, was sentenced by a three-judge federal appeals court on Jan. 24 in Porto Alegre. His lawyers say the written indictment contained 38 omissions, 16 contradictions and five areas that were unclear.
The faults raised should "result in the annulment of the whole process or acquittal of Lula," say his lawyers, who include Cristiano Zanin Martins and Valeska Teixeira Zanin Martins.
The case was brought to the Porto Alegre appeals court after Lula said he was wrongly accused by Judge Sergio Moro, who sentenced Lula to nine years and six months last July for awarding contracts to Brazilian construction company OAS in exchange for a beachfront duplex near Sao Paulo.
Rather than ruling in Lula's favor, the court increased his sentence.
The case is just one within a larger Petrobras and Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption scandal that involves hundreds of Brazilian state officials and business leaders.
The defense has consistently denied Lula took part in illicit negotiations, saying evidence was based on OAS leader testimonies who had reached a plea-bargain deal with prosecutors.
On a larger scale, Lula and his supporters say the case is part of a plot by powerful right-wing factions within the government and business class to deny the left-wing former president from regaining the presidency.
"President Lula has been subjected to political prosecution and conviction," Lula's laywers told the press following the Jan. 24 ruling.
"This verdict is not safe and is a miscarriage of justice and we will continue to fight this political conviction… Today, three judges have chosen to ignore evidence of innocence and the rule of law."
The same three judges are now due to hear Lula's appeal based on the technical merits of their own sentencing.
Despite the Porto Alegre ruling, Lula is running for president and currently leading in public polls. If he's elected, the indictment may yet stand in the way of him assuming executive office.