By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Supreme Court denied former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s habeas corpus request to remain free while appealing his twelve year one month conviction. With the Court’s six votes to five decision to reject the habeas corpus, the former two-term president may be arrested at any time.
“I believe there is no rupture or challenge of the principle of the presumption of innocence with the beginning of the sentence after the second instance,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice, Carmen Lucia Rocha while delivering her vote to reject the plea and allow Lula’s jail conviction.
The over nine hours of voting and sometimes heated debates among the Justices came to its apex around 7:30PM, when Justice Rosa Weber cast her vote to reject Lula’s request. Justice Weber was considered the deciding vote of the Court, since all of the others, except her, had expressed their opinions on the matter before the session.
Lula’s defense has already stated that it will file a new appeal in the Regional Court (TRF4) which convicted the former leader for corruption and money laundering and has rejected an appeal already once.
The former president who started out as a labor leader, spent most of the day at the Metalworkers Union headquarters, leaving almost at the end of the session without speaking to supporters nor journalists.
Most of Brazil’s political parties released statements on the decision minutes after Chief Justice Rocha declared her vote. With the exception of Lula’s PT (Workers Party) and the extreme left PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party) all others praised the outcome.
“A decision in the opposite direction would frustrate society and highlight the feeling of defeat in the fight against impunity,” stated Nilson Leitão, leader of the PSDB (Brazilian Socialist Democratic Party) in the Chamber of Deputies.
Lula’s party however disagreed. “There is a combination of political and economic interests against the country and its sovereignty, against the democratic process against the Brazilian people,” stated the note released by the PT.
“The nation and the international community know that Lula has been convicted without evidence in an illegal process. Lula is innocent and this will be proclaimed in a fair trial,” concluded the party.
Left-wing militants who kept vigil in many cities throughout Brazil on Wednesday were disappointed and angry about the outcome. According to daily Folha de S. Paulo, several leaders, including MST (landless peasant movement) leader Alexandre Conceição threatened
to occupy ‘all public buildings’ and ‘all lands’.
“There will be no land that will not be occupied, there will be no seclusion. There will be no public building that will not be occupied,” he told a frenzied crowd in Brasilia. “There is no more dancing around. It’s combat, it’s war, it’s a battle and we will win,” he said, according to the newspaper report. Later, however he reversed his discourse, preaching ‘peace, democracy, not military intervention’.
International left-wing groups also weighed in on Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision, Lula’s fate and Brazil’s democracy.
Early Thursday morning, the former Brazilian leader known as the ‘father of the poor’ received support from members of the Parlasur (Mercosur Parliament), the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (a left-wing political group in the European Parliament), as well the Andean Parliament and the Latin American Parliament, according to the document sent to news agency EFE by representatives of the Parlasur, headquartered in Montevideo, Uruguay.
“European and Latin American legislators express our concern over the Brazilian democracy and we reject another violation applied by the Judiciary against the Brazilian Constitution and the due process of law,” said document according to EFE.