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Brazil: PT Slams 'Lawfare' Against Lula, Weighs Legal Actions

Workers' Party national directive board gathered to decide future legal actions. July 9, 2018. | Photo: PT/Ricardo Stuckert Workers' Party national directive board gathered to decide future legal actions. July 9, 2018. | Photo: PT/Ricardo Stuckert
“It's difficult to point out who acted in the most shameful way” said the president of the Workers' Party (PT), Senator Gleisi Hoffmann, regarding the weekend legal events that kept former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in prison despite a release order. “Why don't they immediately arrest the Brazilian people that want Lula free and Lula president?” Hoffmann rhetorically asked, adding that she is “sad that the country has to be ashamed of its judges.”

Lula da Silva remains in prison after a decision by an appeal judge to immediately release him was blatantly rejected by unauthorized judges, starting what some have dubbed a lawfare.

“Moro, Thompson, Gebran and the delegates on duty at the Federal Police in Curitiba are all accomplices in the same violence against the rights of Lula, against democracy and against the freedom of the people to vote for who best represents them in the October presidential elections,” said Hoffmann.

Appeal judge Rogerio Favreto of the Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region (TRF-4) based in Porto Alegre, ordered Lula's release on Sunday, answering to a habeas corpus request by three PT lawmakers. Despite being on Vacation in Portugal with his family, the order was rejected by Judge Serio Moro, who presided over a corruption case against former President Lula da Silva, arguing Favreto lacks the authority to release him.

The events turned into a “lawfare,” with Favreto reaffirming the release order and giving the police a one hour ultimatum and Judge Gebran Neto, in charge of Lula's case at the regional federal court, stepping in to keep him in jail.

At the end, Judge Thompson Flores, president of the TRF-4, ruled that the case must return to judge Gebran, keeping Lula in prison.

“They're all accomplices in an act of disobedience to a judicial order, followed by an arbitrary decision of judge Gebran, without any legal or procedural basis,” said Gleisi in a statement.

The PT held a party meeting in San Pablo, where members decided to take legal actions against judge Sergio Moro and the trail court that rejected Lula's release order despite coming from a higher tribunal.

Supporters of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva protest near the federal police headquarters in Curitiba, Brazil, July 8, 2018. Photo | Reuters

Paulo Teixeira, one of the lawmakers responsible for the habeas corpus in favor of Lula, accused Moro of “violating the constitution” by preventing Lula's release.

The request is based on the right of the pre-candidate to attend campaign acts and debates. Lula is the front-runner for the presidential elections in all opinion polls, with 33 percent of the vote intention according to a poll by Ibope, published in June. The runner-up, the 63-year-old retired army captain Jair Bolsonaro, sits at 15 percent.

“The detained have same political rights as any other common citizen,” said the lawmaker Waldih Damous, who also took part in the habeas corpus request, adding that obstructing the release order coming from a higher legal stance could even lead to prison for Moro.

Lula's candidacy will be formalized in a campaign act on August 15, despite being held prisoner in the police headquarters at Curitiba.

The head of Lula's legal team, Cristiano Zanin Martins, and lawyer Geoffrey Robertson will include a report on Sunday's event in the complaints filed at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

According to journalist Marcelo Auler, people who got access to Lula's prison cell on Sunday said the former president was optimistic about the turn of the events. “It was like a pot of gold for PT's campaign,” he said.

Lula has been imprisoned since April 7 in Curitiba over alleged charges of corruption that investigators failed to provide evidence for.

  • Countries: Latin America

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