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Brazil's top court spars over jail for ex-President da Silva

06 April 2018

Rafael Guedes told journalists that the order will "put the spotlight even more on the ex-president".

Da Silva has maintained his innocence, saying this case as well as several other corruption charges that have yet to be tried are attempts to keep him off the presidential ballot.

Earlier on Thursday, Brazil's Supreme Court rejected Lula's plea to remain free until he exhausts all his appeals, in a corruption case he calls a political witch hunt. Lula's sentence was increased from 9 1/2 years to 12 years during a first failed appeal in January.

The court's debate underscored how fraught the matter is at a time of high tension and angst in Brazil, which is struggling to emerge from a crippling recession and is four years into a major corruption scandal that has ensnared much of the country's elite, including da Silva.

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Ahead of elections in the country in October, Silva has been leading opinion polls.

Lula, 72, was president of Brazil from 2003 to 2011. After the ruling, Lula's Workers' Party said it was a "tragic day for democracy in Brazil".

The Brazilian Democratic Movement party will formally decide which candidate it hopes to move forward with a selection to lead its party in the national election in either the month of June or July, during the Brazilian winter.

"It was applied to only one person", she said. The decision could radically alter October's presidential election and affect stability in Latin America's largest nation.

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While it's clear that the current Brazilian Minister of Finance wants to run for the presidency of the Portuguese-speaking, South American country, he might not be able to actually run for the sought-after spot of being the President of Brazil because the Brazilian Democratic Movement party is the largest in the country, making it hard for him to beat out other primary candidates, due simply to the vast amount of competition within the MDB party every single election cycle. "Judge Sergio Moro found the popular politician guilty of illegally taking more than $1 million in kickbacks from an engineering company, using the money to refurbish a beachfront apartment", NPR's Colin Dwyer reported at the time.

The decision by the Supreme Federal Tribunal means that da Silva will likely soon be forced to begin serving his 12-year sentence.

"People want to be close to President Lula after this injustice", he said. Some exemptions have been made in the past, and the ultimate decision in Lula's case would be made by the top electoral court if and when Lula officially files to be a candidate.

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Brazil's top court spars over jail for ex-President da Silva