Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s former President and leftist icon served the first day of a 12-year prison sentence for corruption on Sunday April 8, 2018. However, according to AFP report, the former President is actually hoping for a way out through the courts this week, threatening to extend the drama ahead of presidential elections. The 72-year-old, who served two terms as head of state between 2003 and 2010, entered prison in the southern city of Curitiba late on Saturday, becoming Brazil’s first ever ex-president to be jailed on a criminal conviction.
According to the report, his cell is located in the same federal police building that serves as the base of operations for “Car Wash,” the wide-ranging anti-graft investigation that brought him down. Since World War II, Brazil’s presidents have often ended up in trouble — impeached, felled by a coup and even one suicide — but Lula is the first to have been convicted and locked up. News from Brazil said the septuagenarian was found guilty last year of accepting a luxury apartment as a bribe from a construction company and is the biggest scalp so far in the “Car Wash” probe. He insists on his innocence and says he was framed to stop him running in October presidential elections in which polls show him as serious frontrunner.
But there could be surprises ahead, with a potentially explosive legal development coming as early as Wednesday when the Supreme Court in Brazil could revisit the current law on incarceration during appeals, local media said. As things stand, anyone convicted and losing a first appeal, as in Lula’s case, must conduct further appeals from prison. But there is pressure to change that so that higher court appeals could be pursued in liberty, which could provide a reprieve for Lula.
“In Brazil, everything is possible, so he could spend a week in prison and then a judge from the Supreme Federal Court could send him to house arrest, for example,” said Oliver Stuenkel, a specialist in international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Sao Paulo. For a long time, we have been living with the unprecedented, so it is very difficult to predict what is going to happen,” he told AFP.
With six months until Brazil’s presidential election, and Lula still the frontrunner, the stakes are high. “From prison, he will continue exerting his influence and he could also exploit the symbolism of his victimization,” said Andre Cesar, an analyst at the Hold political consultancy. Being locked up almost certainly means Lula will be out of October’s presidential election, throwing the race wide open. In polls, he currently scores more than double his nearest rivals.