Can Congress send Lula back to prison?

lula congress
Lula. Photo: Ricardo Stuckert

Earlier this month, Brazil’s Supreme Court concluded a trial on the possibility of executing prison sentences after a single appeal. The vote came right down to the wire, with Chief Justice Dias Toffoli settling the ruling at a 6-to-5 majority, establishing that defendants may only go to jail after exhausting all of their appeals routes.

This represented a change to the court’s precedents and allowed the release of several thousands of felons still awaiting high court appeals—among them former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who remains the most divisive figure in modern-day Brazilian politics.

The political furor was...

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