By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Thousands of Brazilians celebrated on Wednesday afternoon a ruling by one of Brazil’s Supreme Court Justices, which would free former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.The celebration, however, was short lived, with the Chief Justice rejecting the ruling and setting for April 2019, the decision.
“The decision already taken by a majority of the members of the Court must be honored by the presidency,” justified Supreme Court Chief Justice Jose Antonio Dias Toffoli in his decision.
According to Toffoli, his colleague, Marco Aurelio Mello contradicted a ‘sovereign decision’ by the Supreme Court plenary in 2016, which authorized the arrest of a person after the second appeal.
The surprising decision by Mello would have freed over 169,000 people in jail but with their convictions still under appeal, including former president Lula.
The decision, however, would not benefit many of the politicians of Rio de Janeiro, arrested and convicted under Lava Jato (Carwash) operation. Among them, current and former Rio de Janeiro governor, Sergio Cabral and Luiz Fernando Pezão, and Chamber of Deputies’ president, Eduardo Cunha
Minutes after the announcement of Mello’s decision Lula’s defense team asked for his release, even forsaking the standard medical exam given to those released from jail.
Social media outlets went crazy with both those who cheered the Justice’s decision and those who criticized it. Among those against freeing inmates whose second appeal had been rejected was president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro.
“Congratulations to the president of the Federal Supreme Court (Toffoli) for overturning the injunction that could benefit tens of thousands of prisoners in Brazil and jeopardize the well-being of our society, which already suffers daily from the chaos of widespread violence!” Bolsonaro said on his Twitter account.
The Supreme Court has scheduled for April 10th, 2019, the issue of whether or not to maintain convicted individuals in jail after their second appeal or to wait for the person’s final appeal.