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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - It was not yet 1 PM, the time when the Federal Court of Curitiba would start the day's work, and the lawyers of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had already filed an electronic petition for his immediate release.

The argument was clear: the decision, taken the day before by the Federal Supreme Court, that only those convicted after all appeals had been exhausted could be imprisoned, directly . . .

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