By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Chief Justice in Brazil, Carmen Lúcia Rocha, said in a statement on Monday that the country lives ‘times of intolerance and intransigence’ and called upon the Brazilian people serenity and calmness.
Rocha’s statement comes two days before the country’s Supreme Court decides on whether to grant former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a habeas corpus which would allow him to stay out of prison.
In her statement, Rocha says that without democracy, ‘there is no respect for law, nor hope for justice and ethics’.
“Problems are solved with rationality, competence, balance and respect for rights. For this very reason, this is a time when one must ask for serenity,” she stated on most of Monday night’s newscasts.
“Violence is not justice. Violence is revenge and incivility. Serenity must be asked so that people can expose their ideas and positions, in a legitimate and peaceful way,” concluded Rocha.
The statement comes as groups favorable and against former President Lula organize rallies and demonstrations for Wednesday, April 4th, when the Court is expected to rule on the ex-leader’s habeas corpus.
These groups are supported by groups of lawyers and as well as groups of court magistrates, which argue both sides of the issue.
A petition, with over 3,600 signatures from criminal lawyers, filed on Monday argues against the arrest of convicted persons after the appeals have ended in the lower court.
“No one, absolutely nobody, will be found guilty until all the resources are exhausted. It follows that, except in cases of flagrant arrest or provisional arrest (temporary or preventive), a person may only be arrested after a final conviction (when there is no more possibility of appeal). Like it or not, the Constitution of the Republic enshrined the principle of presumption of innocence,” argue the lawyers in the petition.
On the other side, a technical note signed by five thousand magistrates and members of the prosecutor’s office say that changing the Court’s decision to authorize the arrest after the second appeal would not be unconstitutional.
“The presumption of innocence does not constitute a rule, but a principle, which has no absolute value and therefore must be characterized by other values, rights, freedoms and constitutional guarantees. For these reasons, the principle of presumption of innocence must be weighed against exacerbating the protection of persons subject to criminal prosecution, to the detriment of the values most relevant to society,” says the note delivered to the Court.
According to those against the Court ruling in favor of the former leader, such decision would set a dangerous precedence for all those already in jail for corruption, murder, smuggling and other crimes.
Last week a Brazilian court upheld Lula’s twelve years and a month conviction set in January. The former leader, however, was granted an injunction by the Supreme Court on March 22nd, which allowed him to remain free until the same Court rules on his habeas corpus, scheduled for Wednesday, April 4th.