In a lightning fast ruling which was announced at the last minute without advance notice to former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s defense team, the Brazilian Justice Court ruled on Lula’s 3rd appeal today, reducing his sentence from 12 years and one month to 8 years, 10 months and 20 days.
The move was seen by some as a preemptive attempt to keep Lula in prison, as the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court is scheduled to rule in the near future on whether defendants such as Lula, can be held behind bars after the denial of their second appeal. Although it was considered unconstitutional by many Brazilian legal scholars, the Supreme Court ruled that Lula could be arrested after losing his second appeal in April, 2018, after Ministers were threatened by Army General Vilas Boas on national television the night before the ruling. Many legal scholars believe that when the Supreme Court meets to issue a final ruling on the issue in the near future, they will ban imprisonment in these situations. As this new ruling by the Supreme Justice Court technically constitutes Lula’s 3rd appeal, however, he will no longer be affected by a Supreme Court ruling on the issue.
Nevertheless, within the guidelines of Brazilian law, the sentence reduction means that Lula is now eligible for transfer to house arrest, and, although some right wing sectors of the judiciary will certainly try to block this from happening, it may be impossible.
Workers Party Congressional Leader Paulo Pimenta said, on the ruling, “it’s not much, but it’s a start.”