Brasília [Brazil]: Quashing his bid to return to power, Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the country's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will be imprisoned while he appeals his corruption conviction.
The ruling will put the former president, affectionately known as "Lula" by supporters, behind bars during the run-up to the general election in October, effectively taking him out of the race and denying him the possibility of presidential immunity against prosecution.
Technically, the Supreme Federal Tribunal's decision doesn't keep da Silva off the ballot.
"He is calm, relaxed, with the clear conscience of an innocent person", said Gleisi Hoffmann, leader of the leftist Workers' Party founded by Lula after he rose from poverty as a trade union organizer during Brazil's 1964-85 dictatorship.
While Brazilians are used to frequent delays and rambling verdicts in their courts, this 10-hour deliberation felt particularly long in this highly charged atmosphere. The final judgement was a narrow one, with six of the judges voting in favor and five opposed. The Superior Electoral Court could decide to make such an exception if Lula registers as a presidential candidate before the August 15 deadline.
Lula's legal battles have divided Brazilians and this decision was no different.
While Mr. da Silva is not the first Brazilian leader engulfed in scandal - former President Fernando Collor de Mello stepped down to avoid being impeached in 1992 and Ms. Rousseff was impeached on charges of manipulating the budget to hide economic problems - his fall is striking nonetheless.
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A demonstrator wearing a mask of former Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, carries a sign written in Portuguese that reads "Love Will Overcome Hate".
A former metalworker and trade union activist, he was the first left-wing leader to make it to the presidency in Brazil in almost half a century. The case is related to "Operation Car Wash", initiated in 2014 to investigate allegations that Petrobras awarded contracts based on bribes.
Lula's conviction was upheld on a first appeal.
In the latest election polling, Lula scores more than 30 percent, with his nearest rivals in a crowded field getting only around half that.
An arrest warrant is reportedly expected in a matter of days. Last week, while campaigning in the southern state of Parana, where Moro convicted him, two buses in his caravan where hit with bullets.
Lula oversaw years of robust growth and falling inequality during a commodity boom and has said he wants to run again for the presidency in October.