The Supreme Court in Brazil on Thursday ruled out the former President Luiz Inacio Lula DA Silva plea to avoid prison sentence.
6 out of 11 judges late on Wednesday rejected a request from the leftist political leader to stay free from conviction in a vote that is likely to end his political career and set to further divide Brazil before national elections in October.
Having lost his first appeal in January, 72-year-old Lula is asked to begin serving his 12-year prison sentence for accepting bribes. He could be jailed within a week.
During his eight years in power ending in 2010, the former metal worker was credited with raising millions out of poverty in one of the world’s most unequal countries through social benefits and wage rise.
His conviction stemmed from a wide-ranging corruption investigation into the state-run oil company Petrobras, dubbed Operation Car Wash. Lula was found to have accepted a bribe worth some 3.7 million reais in the form of a beachfront apartment.
Lula claims the charges are politically motivated and designed to prevent him from running this year’s election.
More than 20,000 people gathered in Sao Paolo on Tuesday, calling for his immediate imprisonment while supporters too rallied in large numbers in a rival demonstration. His defense said he was a victim of political persecution.
The ex-president is still Brazil’s most popular politician, despite his conviction and six separate pending corruption trials. He is leading in all opinion polls for the presidential election, but his conviction could bar him from running.
Brazilian society is highly affected following President Dilma Rousseff (Lula’s successor) impeachment and removal from office amid a corruption scandal and economic crisis in 2016.