Brazil’s Political World in Turmoil as Former President Lula da Silva’s Corruption Conviction Is Upheld on its First Appeal

On January 24, 2018, an appeals court upheld former president of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s July 2017 conviction for taking bribes and money laundering, while increasing his prison sentence from nine and a half years to twelve years and one month. The three-judge panel unanimously found there was sufficient evidence that Lula accepted a beachfront triplex on Guaruja beach, near São Paulo, in exchange for helping an engineering firm win contracts with the state oil company Petrobras. The case emerged as part of the far-reaching Lava Jato (Car Wash) corruption probe into a bribes-for-contracts scheme at Petrobras. Lula also faces six other indictments for alleged corruption. Yet Lula is still the front-runner for the October 2018 presidential election, and until his appeals are all heard, he will stay in the race. Some observers point to the autonomy of Brazilian justice and the problems generated by corruption, while others argue that this is a political witch-hunt to eliminate a powerful leftist.

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