A Brasília federal criminal court ruled to shelve a case in which former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is accused of receiving a beachfront triplex apartment as a bribe from a construction company.
In 2017, Lula had been convicted to almost ten years in prison for corruption and money laundering in the case — a decision upheld by an appellate court. These verdicts led him to serve 580 days in prison between April 2018 and November 2019. He was released after the Supreme Court ruled that sentences can only be enforced once all appeals routes are exhausted.
The convictions were later quashed when the Supreme Court considered the cases were not held in the proper trial venue. Instead of a Brasília court, the case was tried by the court overseeing the Operation Car Wash anti-corruption task force.
The case’s judge was Sergio Moro, who later served as Jair Bolsonaro’s Justice Minister and is now running for president. The Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Moro had been biased in his judgment of Lula, overturning all decisions made in cases involving the former president, nullifying evidence gathered and sending proceedings back to square one. Prosecutors then asked for the case to be dismissed based on the statute of limitations.
Lula celebrated the decision as a testament to his innocence, which is misleading — as his convictions were quashed on a technicality. The center-left politician leads all presidential polls, with voting intentions around the mid-40s — while Sergio Moro is polling at 9 percent.