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Pressure Mounts on Supreme Court ahead of Lula Trial

04/03/2018 - 12h41

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DE SÃO PAULO

On the eve of the trial that will rule on the merits of former president Lula's habeas corpus request, the floors of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) became a stage for rival petitions to be put forward, which, in turn, triggered demonstrations set to take place on Tuesday (the 3rd) and Wednesday (the 4th).

On Monday, prosecutors, attorney generals and judges handed the Supreme Court a document with the signatures of more than 5,000 colleagues. They requested that the justices not revisit the court's 2016 ruling that made it legal to begin serving sentences following a second-instance conviction.

On the other hand, criminal lawyers and public defenders decided to position themselves against arrests following second-instance convictions, gathering 3,600 signatures.

Demétrius Abrahão/Fotoarena/Folhapress
Federal Supreme Court, in Brasília
Federal Supreme Court, in Brasília

The disputes arose two days prior to the session that will determine the merits of former president Lula's habeas corpus request and is scheduled to take place on Wednesday. The discussion surrounding the execution of second-instance prison sentences is central to the habeas corpus debate: the former president's attorneys are trying to keep him from serving his sentence following the 4th Federal Regional Court's conviction.

The backdrop to the session that will appraise Lula's habeas corpus request is a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that found that defendants who are convicted in a second-instance ruling shall begin serving their sentences.

However, some justices have granted habeas corpus warrants contrary to the 2016 majority ruling.

This legal ambiguity has strengthened the view that the court is divided and should therefore reassess where it stands on the matter.

The debate that will determine whether or not former president Lula should begin serving his sentence will also spark protests throughout the country.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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