Brazil’s jailed ex-president Lula could be freed following top court vote

Brasilia:  Brazil’s Supreme Court has voted to end mandatory imprisonment of convicted criminals after they lose their first appeal, restoring the previous rule that they should be allowed to exhaust all their appeal options before being locked up.

Brazil’s former president Luis Inacio da Silva, centre, last year.Credit:Bloomberg

The politically charged re-interpretation of the country’s penal code could lead to the release of dozens of high-profile convicts, including former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, jailed last year for corruption.

By a 6-5 vote, the court overturned a three-year-old rule that contributed to the success of Brazil’s biggest corruption investigation, the so-called Car Wash operation, led by former judge and current Justice MInister Sergio Moro, that put dozens of company executives and politicians in jail for bribes and kickbacks.

The prospect of serving immediate prison time after losing a first appeal encouraged suspects to negotiate plea deals with prosecutors, providing them with information that helped unravel the biggest graft scheme in Brazil’s history.

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