The majority of the Second Chamber Judges on Brazil's Federal Supreme Court decided Tuesday to transfer all Odebrecht plea bargain testimony related to the corruption case with former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva to the Federal Justice Department in Sao Paulo. In effect, the move would remove Federal Judge Sergio Moro, who initally charged and condemned Lula on corruption, from the case.
The decision was an acceptance of Lula's legal defense team appeal that argued in December that plea bargain testimony in the Odebrecht corruption investigations had no relationship to corruption involved with Petrobras.
The testimony in question is related to a ranch located in Atibaia (Sao Paulo), which Lula's family visited on several ocassions, alleged donations made to the Institute Lula, an apartment in Sao Bernardo do Campo, as well as speaking engagement contracts Lula fulfilled after his presidency, according to Nodal.
Gilmar Mendes, Dias Toffoli and Ricardo Lewandowski were the judges who voted in favor of the appeal.
Lula's defense lawyer, Cristiano Zanin Martins, welcomed the decision, saying that it “confirms what Lula's legal defense team has always said. There is no concrete element that can justify the competency of the 13th Federal Criminal Court in Curitiba in the processes involving the former president.” Martins concluded that the decision made by the Federal Supreme Court “brings to an end, once and for all, the exceptional judgement created for Lula in Curitiba.”
Despite his conviction and imprisonment, Lula has topped every 2018 electoral poll conducted by Vox Populi, Ibope, Datafolha, Data Poder 360, Instituto Parana, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos. Many legal experts and observers attribute his conviction and imprisonment to a salacious mainstream media campaign coupled with lawfare.
Lula's two terms in office were marked by a slew of social programs, lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty and removing the country from the United Nations World Hunger Map. He left office with a record approval rating of 83 percent in 2011, according to Datafolha.