In July, the former president was convicted of corruption and money laundering, and sentenced to 9 years and 6 months in jail. While the prosecution will not ask for Lula’s immediate arrest, today’s verdict could be decisive for Brazil’s 2018 election. Lula currently leads all polls, but could be declared ineligible for office if his conviction is upheld.
Lula is accused (and was convicted) of accepting a beachfront apartment as a kickback from OAS, a construction firm. The prosecutors demonstrated that the apartment was reformed to be used by Lula. The prosecution, however, has failed to prove exactly how Lula benefited the company in return – something that the law demands, at least in theory. Political scientist José Álvaro Moysés told The Brazilian Report that “while logic points to Lula being guilty, the evidence leaves room for reasonable doubt.”
The defense’s strategy
Lula’s lawyers will try to get him off the hook using two very different strategies
They will use part of the first verdict to disqualify the trial. In July, Judge Sérgio Moro said that the bribes didn’t necessarily come from Petrobras. “If the case doesn’t involve Petrobras, then Moro has no business judging it,” said the defense team.
The defense will evoke the statute of limitations. If Lula’s crimes were committed in 2009, the right to prosecute him would have expired in 2015.
The “score” matters
Three judges will try Lula. If the decision is a 2-1 vote for his conviction, he will have more appeals than in a 3-0 verdict.