News ID: 261320
Published: 0131 GMT November 09, 2019

Brazil's ex-president Lula walks free from jail

Brazil's ex-president Lula walks free from jail
AFP

Brazil's leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva walked free from jail Friday after a year and a half behind bars for corruption following a court ruling that could release thousands of convicts.

The former president, wearing a black T-shirt and suit jacket, pumped his fist as he exited the federal police headquarters in the southern city of Curitiba and was quickly mobbed by hundreds of supporters and journalists, AFP reported.

In an impassioned address in a sometimes hoarse voice, Lula vowed to keep fighting for poor people and denounced the economic policies of the current right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro.

"People are hungrier, they have no jobs, people work for Uber or delivering pizzas on a bike," Lula said in remarks sometimes drowned out by cheers from the crowd and fireworks overhead.

Lula's highly anticipated exit from the facility where he had been held since April 2018 came hours after his lawyers requested the immediate release of the 74-year-old, who has been serving a nearly nine-year sentence for corruption and money laundering.

Late Thursday, the Supreme Court overturned a rule requiring convicted criminals to go to jail after losing their first appeal. Lula is one of several thousand convicts who could benefit from the decision.

Those convicts would remain free until they had exhausted their rights to appeal – a process critics say could take years in cases involving people able to afford expensive lawyers.

Many of those affected by the 6-5 ruling are political and business leaders caught up in a massive corruption probe dubbed Car Wash that began in 2014.

The Supreme Court ruling had given Lula "hope that there could be justice," his lawyer Cristiano Zanin said.

"Our judicial battle continues, our focus is to get the legal case nullified."

Lula, who led Brazil through a historic boom from 2003 to 2010, earning him the gratitude of millions of Brazilians for redistributing wealth to haul them out of poverty, was serving eight years and 10 months for corruption.

He was sentenced to almost 13 years in jail in February in a separate corruption case and still faces another half dozen corruption trials.

Lula has denied all the charges, arguing they were politically motivated to keep him out of the 2018 presidential election that was won by Bolsonaro.

 

 

 

   
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