Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

21.43 8 Nov 2019


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The former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been freed from prison following a judge's order.

da Silva - widely referred to as Lula by his supporters - had been serving a 12-year prison sentence after a controversial conviction for corruption.

However, earlier this week Brazil's Supreme Court ruled that convicts should be allowed exhaust their appeal options before being sent to jail.

It will potentially allow thousands of prisoners to be freed pending appeals - and today a judge ruled that Lula could be released under the new rules.

Supporters gathered outside the prison where the former president was being held to celebrate the news.

In comments quoted by BBC, the newly-released Lula told the gathered crowd: "I didn't think that today I could be here talking to men and women that during 580 days [imprisonment] shouted good morning, good afternoon or goodnight, no matter if it was raining or 40 degrees (Celsius)."

The popular left-wing politician was president of Brazil between 2003 and 2010.

Following investigations, Lula was convicted and jailed for allegedly taking bribes from engineering firms as part of the far-reaching 'Car Wash' investigation.

Leaked documents and chats published by The Intercept led to allegations of "ethical violations and legally prohibited collaboration" between a judge and prosecutors in the case.

One of the judges involved - Sergio Moro - is now Brazil's justice minister under the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula - who has denied the allegations against him - attempted to run for the presidency in 2018 and was a favourite to win.

However, he was banned from running due to his imprisonment - a situation that led the UN Human Rights Committee to urge Brazil to "take all necessary measures to ensure that Lula can enjoy and exercise his political rights while in prison".

Main image: A supporter of Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva holds up a mask of Da Silva outside the Federal Police headquarters where the former leader is imprisoned in Curitiba, Brazil. Picture by: Leo Correa/AP/Press Association Images

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