SAO PAULO – A Brazilian appeals court will issue a ruling on Jan. 24 on former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s appeal of his corruption conviction, officials said Tuesday.
Lula, who also is the subject of several other indictments, most related to the sprawling Car Wash probe into a massive corruption scheme centered on state oil company Petrobras, was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison in July for bribe-taking and money laundering.
If the appeals court in the southern city of Porto Alegre upholds that conviction, the former head of state would be barred from standing for a third term in elections scheduled for October 2018.
In the initial verdict, federal Judge Sergio Moro found Lula guilty of accepting bribes from construction company OAS in exchange for helping the firm obtain Petrobras contracts.
The bribes came in the form of 3.7 million reais ($1.1-million at the current exchange rate) worth of refurbishments to a seaside apartment, according to the ruling.
The conviction was handed down on July 12 but Lula, who governed Brazil from 2003 until the end of 2010, has been allowed to remain free pending appeal.
A decision on Lula’s fate will come in record time, given that similar cases have taken around a year to be resolved following the initial verdict.
Lula will be barred from seeking any public office if the earlier decision is upheld by a panel of three judges, who could even decide to lengthen his sentence.
The ex-president, who has repeatedly expressed his intention to run in next year’s election, has led in all the voter-preference surveys conducted to date.