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BRAZIL | Military Chief Accused of Intimidating Judges into Ruling Against Lula

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Photo: EFE Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Photo: EFE
With just a few hours to go before Brazil's Supreme Court rules on Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva's habeas corpus case, Army Commander-in-Chief, Eduardo Villas-Boas, has been accused of pressuring the court's judges to deliver a negative verdict against the former Brazilian President.

On Tuesday, Villas-Boas tweeted that the armed forces “rejects impunity” and demands “respect for the Constitution, social peace and democracy.” These tweets, which were broadcast by Globo and other corporate media outlets, have been sharply criticized by left-wing politicians, who say the comments were meant to intimidate supreme court judges into upholding Lula's corruption conviction.

“We cannot definitively destroy the fragile democracy that remains for us. It's necessary that everybody maintains their responsibility and respect the Constitution and the presumption of innocence. It's unacceptable that Globo insists on repeating the past and incite a coup," said former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in response to Villas-Boas comments.

Flavio Dino, governor of Maranhao, also condemned Villas-Boas comments, which alluded to Lula's habeas corpus case. "In no democracy on this planet does a commander-in-chief of the army speak in such a manner on the eve of an important Supreme Court ruling," Dino said in a report published by Brasil 24/7. He reiterated that “it's not up to the army commander-in-chief to interpret the Constitution nor detail what is impunity.”

Gleisi Hoffman, president of the Workers' Party, also weighed in on the matter, calling Globo's meticulous broadcast of Villas-Boas comments “scandalous.”

She emphasized that “Globo wants to repeat what it did in 1964 when it incited military chiefs against the Constitucional government. And its doing the same by pressuring the Supreme (Court of Justice).”

Demonstrations were held in different parts of Brazil in favor of and against Lula Tuesday.

A regional court in Brazil, which had sentenced former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to 12 years in prison for corruption, rejected Monday the appeal request filed by his defense team leaving him one step away from jail as he awaits the ruling of the country’s Supreme Court on April 4.

The Brazilian Supreme Court, sitting in the capital Brasilia, will decide whether losing the appeal at the lower court would automatically mean Lula's immediate arrest and incarceration, or if he would be given recourse to seek further legal action.

  • Countries: Latin America

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