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Law Sanctioned by Former President Lula Complicates His Situation as A Prisoner

06/08/2018 - 10h27

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FELIPE BÄCHTOLD
ISABEL FLECK
SÃO PAULO

The then-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had not completed a year in office in 2003, when he sanctioned a law that, 15 years later, would make him lose his sleep over his deadlock with Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato).

In only four paragraphs, law 10,763 amended resolutions from the Criminal Code on white-collar crimes, determining, for example, heavier punishment for the crime of corruption, whose maximum sentence went from 8 to 12 years in prison. The rule created at that time contributed to extending the punishment imposed on Lula in the case of the seaside apartment in Guarujá (SP) by the Federal Regional Court of the 4th region, the appellate court which decides Car Wash cases. The penalty determined for corruption and money laundering was of 12 years and 1 month in prison.

AP Photo/Eraldo Peres
In this March 26, 2018 file photo, Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
In this March 26, 2018 file photo, Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Lula completed two months in jail on Thursday (7) as a result of his criminal conviction.

Another paragraph of the law, however, will surely cause him even more trouble from now on: such paragraph establishes regime progression is subject to the "return of the proceeds obtained from the illegal act committed".

This means that if higher courts do not overturn the former president's conviction or imprisonment, he may only be entitled to semi-open conditions after serving two years in a closed system, if he pays an indemnity of R$ 13.7 million (US$ 3.51 million), including interests and adjustment, as determined by the TRF-4 (Federal Regional Court).

The veto on the regime progression, in the event embezzled amounts are not returned, has already been preventing Car Wash's convicted criminals from being entitled to semi-open conditions. In Lula's case, the fact that he was the president who sanctioned the law which today has become an obstacle in his case is a "natural and legal fatality", according to the coordinator of the post-graduate course in Economic Criminal Law at the Sao Paulo Institute of Public Law, Fernando Castelo Branco.

Translated by ANA BEATRIZ DEMARIA

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