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Brazilian court: Lula barred from presidential election

By Sommer Brokaw
Brazilian court: Lula barred from presidential election
Supporters marched to the Supreme Court of Justice to rally in favor of the registration of the candidacy of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for Brazil's president on Aug. 15. Since then, Brazil's top electoral court has ruled that Lula cannot run for re-election. File Photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE

Sept. 1 (UPI) -- A month before Brazilians go to the polls to vote in a presidential election, Brazil's top electoral court has ruled a popular former president jailed for corruption conviction, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, cannot run.

Capping a hearing that stretched overnight, Supreme Electoral Tribunal judges ruled 6-1 that Lula, 72, who registered weeks ago and ascended to first in polling, was not eligible to run in October.

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The candidate, who served two terms as Brazil's president from 2003-2011, widely known as Lula, is a founding member of Brazil's only socialist political party, Partidos dos Trabahlhadores, the Worker's Party, but he has been in jail after receiving a 12-year sentence for corruption and money laundering earlier this year. Lula was arrested in April after Brazil's Supreme Court rejected his plea to stay out of jail while appealing the corruption case in a bid to recapture the presidency.

The ruling this week defies a request from the United Nations Human Rights Committee in August for Brazilian authorities "not to prevent him from standing for election in the 2018 presidential elections, until his appeals before the courts have been completed in fair judicial proceedings."

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"I never wanted this and if it depended on me I would have avoided that destiny brought us here," said Judge Luís Barroso, who gave the majority opinion. His colleague Edson Fachin, who has jailed other politicians in a sprawling graft investigation, disagreed and said the United Nations decision should prevail.

The majority of the court agreed with Barroso that the U.N. recommendation could not supersede a "clean slate" law that bars candidates who have been convicted of serious crimes.

The decision could work to the advantage of extreme right-wing candidate Jair Bolsanaro, who is running second in the polls to Lula.

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Lula's party vowed to continue to fight for his candidacy.

"This is a week that will shame the judiciary forever," the party said in a statement to The Guardian, arguing that the clean slate law only banned candidates after all appeals processes were exhausted. "Lula has a number of appeals outstanding at higher courts."

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