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Brazil’s top court denies petition to release ex-president

June 26, 2019
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A supporter of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva carries a poster that says in Portuguese "Freedom for Lula" as his lawyers ask the Supreme Court, behind, to free him after he was jailed in connection with the "Car Wash" corruption investigation in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, June 25, 2019. Da Silva’s lawyers argue then-judge Sergio Moro offered guidance to prosecutors in investigations that led to da Silva’s conviction. Moro has said he did nothing improper. The court denied the petition to free da Silva. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a petition to release jailed former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is serving a sentence for corruption.

In a 3-2 vote, a panel of judges rejected freeing da Silva while they consider a petition from his defense team demanding his release because of alleged inappropriate conduct by the judge in the case. It is unclear when the court will rule on the second petition.

Tuesday’s ruling comes in the wake of leaked documents and text messages published by the online news site The Intercept that it said show then-judge Sergio Moro offering guidance to prosecutors in investigations that led to the conviction and jailing of da Silva. The conviction helped block da Silva from seeking the presidency again in October’s election.

Moro, who is now Brazil’s justice minister, denies wrongdoing. Da Silva and his supporters say the leaker material is proof that his conviction was corrupted and he maintains his innocence.

Da Silva, who was president in 2003-2010, was convicted of corruption and money laundering over a beachfront apartment that prosecutors say he received from a construction company in exchange for lucrative government contracts. Da Silva is serving his sentence in the police delegation in the southern city of Curitibia.

In April, Brazil’s second-highest court refused to annul his conviction but reduced the sentence from 12 years and one month to eight years and 10 months. He has been jailed since April 7, 2018.

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