After late-night deliberations, the Supreme Court of Brazil [official website, in Portuguese] on Thursday allowed an arrest warrant for former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to go forward [text, RTF, in Portuguese].
Lula was convicted in July of corruption and the ruling was upheld [JURIST reports] in March. The court of appeals also extended his jail sentence from 9 to 12 years.
Normally in Brazil a person may remain free until their final appeal is over. Lula still has two more courts to which his jail sentence may be appealed. The Supreme Court’s decision, however, makes an exception to that rule and permits the jail sentence to begin immediately. The court did not yet rule on the corruption charge which is being appealed on procedural grounds.
The decision is a major setback for Lula and his supporters who hope to see him return to power in the presidential election slated for October. There is a “clean slate” law in Brazil that usually prohibits someone with a conviction that was upheld on appeal from running for office for eight years. Nevertheless, Lula vows to continue running and he currently leads in the polls.