The release of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from prison in Brazil was a great moment for the people of Brazil. I urge the Brazilian Supreme Court to take the next step and consider the substance of his conviction. Reversal of his conviction is necessary for Lula to run for office again.
Lula was convicted in 2017 of corruption and bribery, in what has now been revealed as an attempt to stop him from competing in the 2018 presidential elections of Brazil. His conviction was upheld by an appellate court, a decision that was buttressed by now-documented efforts of the prosecution to hamper the electoral goals of Lula’s party, the Workers Party. The ruling had the outcome of rendering Lula ineligible for the election, and without a strong challenge from the left, Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil.
Polls leading up to the October 2018 presidential election showed that if Lula had been allowed to run he would be leading and his support had been growing. The next presidential election will be in 2022. Lula is banned from running for office until 2025 unless his conviction is reversed.
Lula was released one day after Brazil’s Supreme Court ended the mandatory imprisonment of convicted criminals after they lose their first appeal. The court’s decision could impact thousands of prisoners in Brazil who have appeals pending. Lula served 580 days in prison as a result of a prosecution that has been exposed as corrupt.
Thousands awaited Lula’s release and listened to him as he gave a 45-minute speech after leaving prison. Lula has vowed to continue to fight his conviction as he seeks full exoneration of the false charges against him. Lula has also said he will restart his aborted campaign for president to challenge President Jair Bolsonaro, the current president whose popularity is dropping rapidly. He announced he will start touring the country in order to renew the electoral campaign he was forced to interrupt.
The high court has not yet considered the substance of Lula’s appeal. Lula was convicted of money laundering and passive corruption. Under Brazilian criminal law this means the receipt of a bribe by a civil servant or government official. His appeal became much stronger after communications between the prosecutors and the judge hearing his case were leaked. These communications showed a conspiracy against Lula to prevent him from running for office. The judge, rather than being an independent arbiter, worked with the prosecutors to ensure Lula was convicted.
I stand in solidarity with Lula and call on the Brazilian Supreme Court to consider the substance of his appeal. It is time for this injustice to be reversed.