independent.ie– A Brazilian Supreme Court justice has quashed all criminal convictions against Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the former president.
The decision means the country’s left-wing icon may have his political rights reinstated and be able to run for election against the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro next year. In a statement, defence lawyers for Mr da Silva, widely known as Lula, said the decision was recognition that “[they] were right all along” in the legal battle to clear the ex-president’s name.
The annulment was lauded by international leftist figures, including Alberto Fernandez, Argentina’s president, who said “justice has been done”.
The Sao Paulo stock exchange slipped amid fears of a divisive 2022 election.
In a TV interview, Mr Bolsonaro said that he was “surprised” by the decision, but believed “the Brazilian people do not want a candidate like [Lula] in 2022”.
Opinion polls take a different view, as a recent Ipec survey showed a groundswell of support for a potential Lula candidacy in next year’s election.
Fifty per cent of respondents indicated they would consider voting for the leftist figurehead, while only 38pc said the same about Mr Bolsonaro.
Lula served as Brazil’s president from 2003 to 2010, overseeing a period of dramatic growth and poverty reduction. When he left office, he did so with an 83pc approval rating, the highest in Brazil’s history.
In 2017, a controversial trial saw Lula convicted on corruption and money-laundering charges and sentenced to nine and a half years in prison.
Subsequent evidence surfaced that showed prosecutors and judges had illegally collaborated to convict and imprison Lula.
He spent 580 days in jail before being released in late 2019 to await appeal.