Former Uruguayan President José Mujica said Wednesday that he does not believe in the "objectivity" of the Brazilian justice system when he was asked about the ruling to uphold a lower court’s prison term of 12 years against former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva over alleged corruption and money laundering.
"It seems to me that this was quite rigged already," Mujica told EFE news agency at a government event in the Uruguayan capital, adding that he had expected the result to be against Lula, the most popular politician in Brazil and the leading candidate for the presidency according to polls.
The former Uruguayan leftist guerrilla leader, who described the Brazilian ex-president as his friend, said Lula is "going up in the presidential polls."
"It's going up because the measures that the Brazilian government is taking are against the social base of workers, of people who live on a salary, of all that ... of the retirees, which is giving Lula support", Mujica stressed.
In this sense, Mujica explained that it is not that Lula is running a "gigantic campaign", but that "the decisions that the government is taking will throw people in his favor".
Mujica also said "at some point" he will meet with Lula at the border of Brazil and Uruguay, since he can not travel to Brazil because he suffers from an "autoimmune disease" and "can not be vaccinated."
Meanwhile the Cuban government expressed its solidarity with the ex-Brazilian head of state as a statement by its foreign ministry Wednesday warned that he was a victim of "fierce political and judicial persecution to prevent his candidacy for the presidency."
Earlier on Wednesday Lula lost his appeal against a 2017 corruption conviction in a major blow to his chances of regaining office. The appeal is against a July 2017 ruling by Judge Sergio Moro who alleged the former leftist president was guilty of corruption and money laundering.
The sentence was grounded on claims that he and his wife illicitly received millions in kickbacks from the OAS Group construction company as well as furniture and improvements to their beachfront apartment in Guaruja.
The judgment on Lula’s appeal was reached after two of the three appeal court judges in the case voted to uphold the decision of a lower court. While Lula can still take his appeal to a higher court, the court's decision could rule him out of October's presidential election.