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News > Latin America

Top Judges Panel Reduces Lula's Sentence to 8 Years

  • Brazil's Superior Court Justice during a session to try the appeal of former president Lula Da Silva in Brasilia, Brazil, April 23, 2019.

    Brazil's Superior Court Justice during a session to try the appeal of former president Lula Da Silva in Brasilia, Brazil, April 23, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 April 2019

The ruling by the special court could mean that Lula's defense could request house arrest for the former president. 

A Brazil special court of supreme judges ruled Tuesday to reduce the sentence of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, from 12 years and 10 months to eight years and 10 months, which would potentially allow his defense to file for moving him to house arrest.

Brazil's Special Court of Top Judges May Order House Arrest for Lula

The investigating judge of the appeal of the sentence against former Brazilian president Felix Fischer, of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), rejected all the appeals for the release and annulment of the sentence but agreed to reduce it to 8 years and 10 months in prison. two other judges also ruled in a similar fashion allowing the reaction of the sentence to go through. 

With this decision, Lula could be moved from state prison to a "semi-open prison" like house arrest within three months.

In his vote, Fischer denied the preliminary requests made by the defense, such as the request for the case to be forwarded to electoral justice.

"You are coming back, coming back. I already listen your signals. Ole, ole, ole, ola! Free Lula, Free Lula Now, Lula Innocent, Lula Political Prisoner."

During his vote at the special session, Judge Jorge Mussi, who asked for reducing Lula’s sentence to 8 years and 10 months, said that any ruling should not be a consequence of external pressures and its duration must be reasonable and agree with the person’s conditions.

In the specific case of the leftist former Brazilian president, Mussi claimed that the Porto Alegre Federal Court's maximum penalty ruling was “an exaggeration”, as Esmael Morais, a political local blogger, reported.

As the STJ meeting was broadcast live by local media, Brazilian citizens expressed their opinions through social networks.

"Free Lula is a cause against the [current Brazilian] government whose role, which was dictated by Bolsonaro himself, to destroy everything previously done in this country in relation to education, social security, health, work, order, and ethics," Hugo Oliveira said on Twitter.

The image reads “STJ [Supreme Court of Justice] imprisonment without evidence is an injustice. Free Lula Now.”

"The evidence that Lula transformed Brazil is everywhere. The evidence of his alleged crimes does not exist," another citizen pointed out.

"Lula is not a man but a cause. They are building a myth and against a myth you cannot fight. Force Lula!," Pepe Mujica, Uruguay's former president, stressed.

Last year Lula was sentenced by a Porto Alegre’s Federal Court to 12 years in prison for alleged corruption and money laundering by Judge Sergio Moro, who was a Federal judge and is now President Jair Bolsonaro’s Justice Minister.

Prosecutors alleged that Lula owns a three-floor luxury apartment at the Guaruja beach that was renovated at a cost of US$1.1 million, money which allegedly the leftist former president received in return for help securing contracts with Petrobras, the Brazilian state-run oil company.

In response to the development the leader of the PT in the House, Paulo Pimenta, said that the reduction of the sentence for former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva by the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) should not be celebrated and that the party continues defending the thesis of ending the process. "It's not something to be celebrated. The only question is the recognition of the exaggerated penalty, which reinforces our argument about the political issues of this process - said Pimenta. He believes that the defense must now push the Federal Supreme Court (STF) to address constitutional issues.

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