By Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Supreme Court on Tuesday, June 25th, delayed until August its decision on an appeal by imprisoned former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who argued he should be freed because of leaked private messages by news site The Intercept showing that the judge who convicted him was not impartial.
Justices Edson Fachin and Cármen Lúcia had already voted against Lula’s petition for release; Justices Gilmar Mendes and Ricardo Lewandowski predictably voted in favor. Some had expected STF Justice Celso de Mello to vote for Lula’s release, but this expectation was not fulfilled.
The Intercept posts showed then-judge and current Justice Minister Sérgio Moro offering guidance to prosecutors in investigations that led to the conviction and jailing of Lula. The conviction helped block him from seeking the presidency again in October’s election.
Moro denies any wrongdoing. Lula and his supporters say the leaked material is proof that his conviction was corrupted and he maintains his innocence.
Lula, who was president in 2003-2010, was convicted of corruption and money laundering over a beachfront apartment that prosecutors say he received from a construction company in exchange for lucrative government contracts. He is serving his sentence in a cell at the police station in the city of Curitiba.
In April, Brazil’s second-highest court STJ refused to annul his conviction but reduced the sentence from 12 years and one month to eight years and ten months. He has been in jail since April 7, 2018.
Lula and his defense team say they will continue to fight against the case and question the impartiality of the judge, now Justice Minister.
Leftist Lula was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010 and left office with an 87 percent approval rating. But the Workers Party (PT) he founded fell hard when Brazilian prosecutors in 2014 began the “Car Wash” (Lava Jato) corruption investigations. They are unprecedented probes into corruption, centered on political kickbacks on contracts at state-run firms.
Lula was convicted in July 2017 in the first of at least eight corruption trials he faces. He was jailed in April 2018 and remained in prison. He has since been convicted at a second corruption trial which is still being appealed.