Justices of Brazil’s Supreme Court voted 3–2 to reject the request to free former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. A session was held Tuesday (Jun 25).
The justices deliberated on a habeas corpus petition in which Lula’s defense team asked for the suspension of then judge Sergio Moro from the case concerning a triplex apartment in the coastal city of Guarujá, São Paulo, after the release of the alleged text messages by website The Intercept. The leaked messages involve Moro and prosecutors in Operation Car Wash.
Earlier on, the authorities denied another request to release the former Workers’ Party (PT) leader.
Lula has been imprisoned since April 7, 2018, in Curitiba after his conviction was confirmed by a federal court which sentenced him to 12 years and a month in jail for the crimes of passive corruption and money laundering.
The petition was filed by Lula’s counsel Cristiano Zanin. Zanin argued that the cases involving arrested defendants and inmates aged 70 and older are considered first on the list of trials.
According to Justice Gilmar Mendes, the defense had consistent arguments and Lula should wait for the end of the trial out of jail. Justice Ricardo Lewandowski also voted to free Lula.
Next, Justice Edson Fachin, rapporteur in the case, cast a contrary vote and said the material disclosed by The Intercept was not submitted to the authorities. Justices Celso de Mello and Cármen Lúcia followed Fachin.
The defense argued that the habeas corpus petition was lodged in November 2018 in a bid to have Moro’s suspension recognized and Lula tried, so that he could be found not guilty and let out of jail.
The main argument is the fact that Moro accepted the invitation to become Justice Minister under President Bolsonaro. When the motion was filed last year, the defense did not include the private messages released by The Intercept exchanged between then judge and prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol, who spearheads Car Wash, in Paraná state. Last week, the lawyers asked the “known facts” to be taken into account by the Supreme Court.
Minister Sergio Moro does not acknowledge the dialogue as authentic and said the messages may have been “edited or manipulated” by a hacker.