A sharply divided Brazilian Supreme Federal Tribunal yesterday voted to reject an attempt by former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to stay out of jail while he appeals a corruption conviction, delivering a hard blow to the front-running candidate in this year’s presidential election in Latin America’s largest nation.
After nearly 13 hours of often heated debate, the Supreme Federal Tribunal voted 6-5 to deny Lula’s request to stave off a 12-year prison sentence while he fights a conviction that he has always argued was nothing more than a ploy to keep him off of the October ballot.
Despite the conviction and several other corruption charges against him, Lula leads all preference polls for the election.
The decision means that Lula would likely soon be jailed, though probably not until at least next week.
Chief Justice Carmen Lucia, who was sharply criticized during the session by various colleagues, cast the deciding vote after the court was tied at 5-5.
“The constitution secures individual rights, which are fundamental to democracy, but it also assures the exercise of criminal law,” she said.
Justice Gilmar Mendes, traditionally a critic of Lula, voted in favor of the former president’s petition to stay out of jail, challenging his colleagues to buck pressure from society.
“If a court bows [to pressure], it might as well not exist,” Mendes said.
Justice Luis Roberto Barroso argued that the integrity of the justice system was at stake.
“A penal system that doesn’t work with minimal effectiveness leads to an instinct for taking justice into one’s own hands,” Barroso said in voting against Lula.
Justice Rosa Weber, who legal analysts said was key because there was much doubt about her position on the matter, voted against Lula.
In one of several brisk exchanges, after Weber’s vote, Justice Marco Aurelio Mello accused Lucia of plotting against Lula’s case.
Limiting the vote just to the habeas corpus petition and not the larger question of when a convicted person should be forced to begin serving a sentence helped sway Weber’s vote, Mello said.
“I want this to be registered in the court’s records,” Mello told Lucia, who responded by saying “yes” to the request.
When the decision was delivered, fireworks and yells could be heard and seen in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, two of the nation’s most important cities.
On the eve of the session that began on Wednesday afternoon, the nation’s army commander raised eyebrows with tweets subtly supporting Lula’s incarceration.
General Eduardo Villas Boas on Tuesday posted two tweets that many interpreted as a form of pressure on the 11 justices on the Supreme Federal Tribunal and a veiled threat of intervention.
“In Brazil’s current situation, it’s worth asking our institutions and the people who is really thinking about what is best for the country and future generations, and who is only worried about their personal interests?” Villas Boas wrote in one tweet.
In a second tweet, Boas wrote that he shared people’s anxiousness and “repudiated impunity.”
O Globo criticized the comments, saying in an editorial that a military chief should “not be opining over judicial and political questions.”
‘FREEDOM WINE’: Taiwanese are empathetic of Australians, the president said, while lawmakers called on their constituents to drink Australian wine to show their support Taiwan would take action to back Australians at a time when they are “under tremendous pressure,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, as tensions between Australia and China heated up. Taipei and Canberra have been mutually supportive in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in exchanging critical medical materials in the early stages, Tsai said, before chairing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Central Standing Committee meeting in Taipei. Taiwan and Australia are like-minded nations, sharing the common values of democracy, freedom and human rights, while their economic and trade relations have also become close, she said. Canberra has been voicing support for Taiwan’s international
VIGILANCE: From tomorrow all arrivals must provide the result of a PCR test issued within three days of boarding, and the CECC asked people to report anyone who has faked their result The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) expects an increase in the number of returning travelers in the coming days, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, adding that the varying qualities of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test reports from other countries is a big concern. Chen, who heads the center, was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders scholarship award ceremony in Taipei. “As the global COVID-19 situation is worsening, and with some holidays coming up, there might be an increase in the number of overseas Taiwanese returning to Taiwan,” he
SKIN, ENTRAILS: Placards also dotted the legislative chamber, with slogans such as ‘Oppose ractopamine pork — not US pork’ and ‘Much ado about nothing’ Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday pelted Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) with pig skin and entrails as he addressed the Legislative Yuan on pork imports for the first time since the KMT’s boycott began on Sept. 18. Opposition lawmakers have been demanding an apology from the government for its decision to lift its ban on the importation of US pork containing residues of the livestock drug ractopamine. After Su arrived at 10am for his 13th attempt to deliver a regular policy report, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus moved to change the agenda to accommodate the premier. The motion resulted in cries of
CECC RULES: The autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program, including mandatory mask wearing in eight types of public venues and indoor facilities, begins today A temporary, two-week ban on Indonesian migrant workers entering the nation is to begin on Friday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday as it reported 24 new imported cases of COVID-19. Twenty of the new cases are Indonesian migrant workers who arrived between Nov. 11 and Friday last week, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. The cases were discovered during a special project on Friday to conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on all 939 recently arrived Indonesian migrant workers in centralized quarantine facilities, as the majority of imported cases in the past