Lula to Stay in Jail as Brazil Supreme Court Reverses Ruling

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s Chief Justice struck down a ruling that would have freed prisoners jailed before the end of their appeals process, including former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Judge Dias Toffoli issued the injunction on Wednesday evening, just hours after one of his colleagues on the Supreme Court had issued the shock, unilateral ruling to release prisoners who still had appeals pending. Lawyers for Lula had filed a petition to free their client based on the earlier decision. The public prosecutors office had appealed it.

Lula is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption and money-laundering, after losing his first appeal against his conviction. Since his jailing in April, Lula’s lawyers and supporters have made repeated efforts to free the leftwing leader, who was barred from running in this year’s presidential election due to his conviction. In July, a federal judge ordered his release, only to be overturned by a higher court.

In the statement accompanying the decision, Toffoli wrote that the earlier ruling would generate legal uncertainty and could harm public order. The court will discuss the matter again on April 10.

The national justice council, or CNJ, had estimated that the ruling could have freed up to 169,000 prisoners -- or just under a quarter of Brazil’s prison population -- according to the G1 website.

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