By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the World Cup behind them, Brazilians watched a judicial battle unfold on Sunday, as a designated, on-duty weekend federal judge, Rogerio Favreto, agreed to a habeas corpus request and ordered the release of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Brazil,Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva among supporters on the day of his arrest in April 2018
Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva among supporters on the day of his arrest in April 2018, photo by Rovena Rosa/AgBr.

The decision was immediately criticized by another judge, Sergio Moro, one of the main judges in the Lava Jato (Carwash) corruption scandal.

“With all due respect, the federal judge [Rogério Favreto], has absolutely no authority to override the decision of the 8th Panel of the Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region and of the Plenary of the Federal Supreme Court,” said Sergio Moro according to government news outlet, Agencia Brasil.

According to Moro, Favreto did not have the authority to release Lula and requested that the judge assigned to the case, Gebran Neto, decide the habeas corpus. Gebran Neto, who had rejected several Lula release requests in the last few weeks, suspended Favreto’s decision.

The tension increased by mid-afternoon, when Judge Favreto reiterated his previous decision, ordering the release of the former president and giving the Federal Police an hour to comply with the decision.

As the afternoon hours passed and Favreto’s order was not obeyed, other judges weighed in. Brazil’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Carmen Lucia Rocha, said in a note, the Courts should decide quickly, but ‘without breaking the hierarchy’ and maintaining ‘the absolute rigor in the compliance with the current norms’.

After more than nine hours of impasse, the president of the Federal Regional Court (TRF) of the 4th Region (where Favreto is assigned), Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores Lenz, ruled to maintain Lula in prison, stating that it would not be up to the magistrate on duty to decide on Lula’s habeas corpus.

Former President Lula was convicted to twelve years for passive corruption and money laundering. He was arrested and sent to prison in April.

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