Wrapped up in several criminal proceedings, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was convicted last year of corruption and money laundering, for allegedly accepting a beachfront triplex apartment from a construction firm. In January, his conviction was upheld by an appellate court, leading to his incarceration on April 7. At every step of the way, Lula’s supporters have called foul play, mentioning questionable points in his case – while his detractors defended the verdict. Now, Lula is at the center of yet another legal clash.
On Sunday (July 8), appellate judge Rogério Favreto issued a release order for Lula, stating that there were no legal grounds to keep him in jail. The habeas corpus had been requested by three Workers’ Party congressmen. The maneuver was carefully planned, with the petition being filed on the weekend, precisely when Mr. Favreto was the only judge on call in the appellate court. Mr. Favreto had not taken part in any phase of Lula’s case and, what’s more, he was a member of the Workers’ Party from 1991 to 2010, worked for the president’s Chief of Staff, and only left the party when he was appointed to his current position by Dilma Rousseff.
Mr. Favreto’s decision was just the first bizarre episode of what was a ridiculous Sunday for Brazilian politics.