Brazil appeals court to rule on Lula's latest challenge


Porto Alegre (Brazil) (AFP)

A Brazilian appeals court was set Monday to rule on former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's latest attempt to stay out of prison and maintain his slender hopes of a political comeback.

The appeal is on technical issues related to the same court's earlier upholding of Lula's conviction on corruption. The court, in Porto Alegre, also increased the leftist icon's sentence to 12 years and one month.

Lula was found guilty in July 2017 of accepting a luxury seaside apartment from a construction company in return for help getting lucrative contracts from state-controlled oil giant Petrobras.

The 72-year-old, who faces multiple other corruption cases, says the case is part of a politicized campaign to prevent him from running in October's presidential election.

While Lula's legal situation is complex, he has surprised many by holding a huge lead in opinion polls, which show he would win what is shaping up to be an unusually turbulent election.

Last week he got a boost when Brazil's Supreme Court said that regardless of the Porto Alegre court's decision Monday, Lula does not have to start serving his sentence until the top court rules on whether he should be allowed to remain free while lodging yet more appeals.

The Supreme Court set April 4th for that decision. If the court rules in favor of Lula, he may be able to drag out his appeals in liberty for a lengthy period.

If it goes against him, he could face immediate incarceration.