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Former Brazilian president Lula's lawyers demand his release after Supreme Court ruling

FORMER Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s lawyers today requested his immediate release from prison after a key Supreme Court ruling.

The court ruled by six judges to five on Thursday night that people should only be imprisoned after all appeals to higher courts had been exhausted. This suggests that Lula, and potentially thousands of other prisoners, could be freed.

The ex-president and Workers Party leader has been imprisoned for 579 days after being convicted of corruption charges which his supporters decry as fabricated. The claim that he was gifted a beachfront flat by construction company Grupo OAS in return for contracts rests on testimony from its former president, Leo Pinheiro, who received a reduction in his own corruption sentence for the testimony. Lula never owned the flat nor did he spend a single night there.

But the conviction ruled him out of running in last year’s election, which he was the favourite to win, allowing far-right strongman Jair Bolsonaro to snatch the presidency.

Workers Party leader Gleisi Hoffman said the ruling was “a very important step to strengthen democracy.” The former president’s lawyers said he must now be freed immediately. “Lula has committed no crime and is a victim of the strategic use of the law for political persecution,” they stated.

Later this month, the Supreme Court is due to consider whether the judge who jailed him, Sergio Moro, was unbiased. Having barred Lula from the presidential contest, Mr Moro was rewarded by President Jair Bolsonaro with the post of justice minister when the latter was elected.

A report this week from the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment found that destruction of the Amazon rainforest increased by 80 per cent between September 2018 and September 2019 during Mr Bolsonaro’s first year in office.

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