By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The beginning of 2018 will be busy for Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. On January 24th the court is expected to decide on the appeal against a corruption conviction issued in July.
Less than a month later, February 20th, a federal court has scheduled the hearing of the former leader and his son in regards to Operação Zalotes (Operation Zelotes).
In July Lula was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison for passive corruption and money laundering. The former leader was charged with accepting million-dollar renovations on a beachfront apartment in exchange for ‘advantages’ in public contracts.
Lula appealed the decision and now the courts have scheduled for January the decision. If the appeal is denied the former president, who is currently leading polls for the 2018 Presidential election will be ineligible to run.
Allies, however, are questioning what they considered a ‘record’ time to process the PT’s appeal in court. “Only the use of the process as a tool of political persecution can explain the rapporteur’s decision to carry out this agenda. The court takes, on average, ten months to set schedules,” said Chamber of Deputies representative Wadih Damous in the PT (Workers Party) website.
Ex-president Lula says however he is serene with the moving up of the process in which he says he was unjustly convicted. “I am calm even with the moving up of the process, because I have spent my whole life saying that justice is slow,” Lula said during a recent rally in Brasilia.
“I only hope that the judges who will judge me study the case, read my defense and that of the prosecution. If there is one person in this country who did not even need a defense lawyer, it’s me,” argued Lula.
In the regarding regarding Operação Zalotes, Lula and his son are accused of crimes of influence peddling, money laundering and criminal organization.
The two are suspected of receiving more than R$2.5 million to influence the negotiations between the federal government and Swedish company Gripen in the purchase of fighter jets for the Brazilian Air Force.