Brazil’s Supreme Court delivered a narrow decision that could release almost 5,000 inmates still appealing their convictions, including jailed former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The court decided in a 6-5 vote that a person can be imprisoned only after all appeals to higher courts have been exhausted. The decision appears to cover Da Silva and others convicted in cases arising from the sprawling “Car Wash” corruption investigation, which has ensnared dozens of top politicians and business leaders in Latin America’s biggest nation.
Lula has consistently denied all the accusations against him and claims they are politically motivated. Justices voted to reinterpret the country’s penal code in a six-five vote issued.
It overturns a three-year-old ruling which threatened suspects with immediate prison time before their appeals were exhausted. The measure was seen as helping prosecutors secure convictions and unravel the major corruption probe by encouraging suspects to negotiate plea deals. Lula’s lawyers have already called for his release in response to the judgement.