By Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Superior Court of Justice on Tuesday reduced former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s 12-year sentence for bribery and money laundering.
In a unanimous decision, the four judges on the Court panel hearing Lula’s appeal agreed to uphold his conviction but cut the sentence to eight years and ten months. The Superior Court of Justice is the country’s second-highest court.
The ruling, broadcast live on the court’s YouTube channel, could mean Lula is eligible for “semi-open” prison later this year.
The 73-year-old leftist icon, who has been sentenced to 25 years behind bars in two separate corruption cases, marked his first year in jail earlier this month.
Lula was initially sentenced to nine and a half years on charges that he accepted a seaside apartment as a bribe for helping the OAS construction company during his 2003-2010 presidency to get lucrative deals with state oil firm Petrobras.
An appeals court increased that in January 2018, a decision the Superior Court of Justice panel ruled Tuesday was “excessive.”
Lula’s legal team said the decision was “too little, but it’s a start.”
He is also appealing the second sentence of almost 13 years handed down in February for accepting renovation work by two construction companies on a farmhouse in exchange for ensuring they won contracts with Petrobras.
Lula has denied all the charges against him, arguing they were politically motivated with the aim of preventing him competing in elections last year that was won by Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
During his election campaign, Bolsonaro said he hoped Lula would “rot in prison.”
Under Brazilian law, a prisoner is eligible for a “semi-open” prison regime after completing one-sixth of the sentence.