BRASILIA – Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court ruled on Friday that former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, currently in prison, cannot stand as a candidate in presidential elections this year because of a corruption conviction.
The judges ruled six to one against the once highly popular leader who was leading in the polls running in the October elections.
Lula has been in prison since April on corruption charges which he claims are a sham.
His Workers’ Party (PT in Portuguese) called the decision arbitrary and politically motivated, adding that it would appeal the electoral court’s ruling.
Luis Roberto Barroso, the investigating judge in the case, accepted the objections against Lula’s candidature based on a law known as the “clean sheets act.”
According to the law, passed by Lula himself in 2010 when he was in power, anyone who is convicted of a crime and has the sentence confirmed in a second hearing, is barred from running in elections.
Despite the legal hurdle, earlier this month the PT had named Lula as its presidential candidate to the electoral commission, along with the vice-president candidate Fernando Haddad, former education minister and ex-mayor of Sao Paulo, who is most likely to replace Lula as the party’s presidential candidate.
Judge Barroso rejected the arguments in defense of Lula, most of which were based on an appeal by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which had urged the government to allow Lula to run.
Lula was imprisoned on April 7 and is serving a 12-year sentence on charges of corruption and money laundering in a scandal related to state-owned petroleum company Petrobras, for allegedly acquiring a beach apartment as commission from a construction firm.
Recent polls showed that almost 40 percent of those intending to vote supported the former president, followed by far-right leader Jair Bolsonero.