News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Brazil’s top court approves jail for ex-president Lula

Ex-President Lula: imprisonment endorsed by Brazil’s top court

The Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) Tuesday rejected a motion by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s defense team to avoid his arrest for a graft conviction that was upheld last week.

Justice Humberto Martins denied the request filed Tuesday morning in a statement published on the court’s website, saying such petitions are only applicable when there is a “concrete threat of imminent imprisonment.”

Judges said the former president should be arrested as soon as the court explains details of the ruling to the defense, a process that usually takes a month.

Lula, then president of Brazil from Jan. 1, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2011, was found guilty of corruption and money laundering last year.

On Thursday, a three-judge panel of a Brazilian appeals court voted unanimously to ratify his conviction and to extend his original sentence from nine and a half years in prison to 12 years.

Under the country’s law, a convict can be put into jail following verdicts from the second trial, even if he still has the right to appeal for a final judgement.

According to Lula’s defense team, imprisoning the former president before the final judgement is a violation to the presumption of innocence. Moreover, given that Lula is the front-runner for this year’s October presidential election, the early imprisonment would damage the democratic process in the country, they claimed.

A federal judge on Monday ordered the public auction of a beachfront apartment allegedly used to bribe the former president in exchange for his help with engineering company OAS to get contracts from state oil company Petrobras.

However, Lula’s team argued there was no evidence that links him to the promise of receiving the apartment where he never lived and visited only once.