Brazil's pivotal Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber on Wednesday voted against leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's plea to remain free until he exhausts all his appeals against a corruption conviction, a crucial vote that indicates the split court could knock down Lula's request.
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The remainder of the court is divided on Lula's request to be allowed to exhaust his appeals before beginning a 12-year prison sentence for supposed corruption. As of 10
The remainder of the Supreme Court is divided on Lula's request to be allowed to exhaust his appeals before beginning a 12-year prison sentence for corruption. As of 12:00 p.m. local time, the vote was split five against and four in favor.
The case that will decide the future of Brazil's most popular politician has sharply divided the country, cast a shadow over this year's presidential elections and stirred rumblings in the army.
A pivotal vote was cast late Wednesday by Weber, who was seen as a swing vote, and her decision likely means a majority will vote that the leader can be sent to prison.
Howeverm, the final result could be delayed until Thursday, or put off indefinitely if any remaining justice requests more time to make a decision.
The leftist leader is still Brazil's most popular politician, despite his conviction and six separate pending corruption trials. He is the frontrunner in all polling for the presidential election in October, though his conviction will likely bar him from running.
Lower court judges, the country's top prosecutor and business groups have urged the court to abide by its own 2016 ruling that defendants can be jailed if a conviction is upheld on a first appeal, as Lula's was earlier this year.
Before that ruling, appeals in Brazil's complex and badly backlogged legal system could stretched out for several years.
Demonstrations for and against Lula snarled traffic in Brazil's main cities Tuesday and Wednesday in scores of cities.