Brasilia, April 5 (IANS) Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court judges voted on Thursday to reject former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s plea to avoid prison.
After over 10 hours of the session, there were six votes against the habeas corpus and five for it, Xinhua reported. The deciding vote was cast by court President Carmen Lucia Rocha.
With the habeas corpus denied, Lula can be arrested any time, which will prevent him from participating in the 2018 presidential elections.
He is facing accusations of corruption and money laundering and is alleged to have received an apartment for favouring certain companies in government contracts. However, Lula denies owning the apartment.
Lula was found guilty and sentenced to prison for nine-and-a-half years in 2017.
On January 24, an appeals court rejected a motion to overturn his conviction for money laundering and accepting bribes. The court also stiffened his initial sentence, increasing it to more than 12 years.
According to Brazilian law, after being found guilty by the appeals court, the former President can be arrested and made to start serving his sentence before all avenues of appeal are exhausted.
However, Lula’s defence contested the ruling, saying arresting a defendant prior to all appeals hurts the principle of presumption of innocence. The lawyers requested that the former President be allowed to remain free until all appeals are heard.