Brazil appeals court upholds former president’s corruption conviction News
Brazil appeals court upholds former president’s corruption conviction

A Brazilian federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld former president and current presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s corruption conviction, which could prevent him from continuing his election campaign.

Lula was convicted [JURIST report] in July on several corruption charges including money laundering and accepting kickbacks during his presidency. Though Lula is one of the strongest presidential candidates in the upcoming election, the Brazilian constitution forbids persons convicted of criminal act from running for office. He still has the opportunity to appeal to a higher court and ultimately, the Superior Electoral Court [official website] renders the final decision for political candidates.

Judge Joao Pedro Gebran Neto was the first of the three judges to vote in favor of the conviction and increased his sentence from 9.5 years in prison to 12. Judge Leandro Paulsen stressed the severity of Luna’s acts, stating [press release]:

[This case] does not deal with small deviations of conduct, moral fragilities, subtle deterioration of customs. We are dealing with the revelation of an organized crime involving the very structure of the Brazilian State, with unequivocal damage to its prospects of maturity, growth and development. The fact that it is someone sued for bad deeds done while exercising the presidency is a very important element to be considered.

Many Brazilians worry the decision will negatively impact the election and cause instability in Brazil’s political and economic structures. Though these concerns are legitimate, the court found Lula’s culpability too high to overturn the conviction [Milenio Stadium report].