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Brazil's flip-flopping over Lula's release sparks protests

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PROTESTS continued in Brazil today after a political and legal battle was sparked when a judge overturned a decision to release former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pending his appeal against a corruption conviction.

Appeal judge Rogerio Favreto ordered the release of Lula yesterday afternoon, giving police a one-hour deadline to free him from the Curitiba prison, where he has been held since April 7.

Mr Favreto came under pressure from fellow judge Sergio Moro, who questioned his authority to free Lula, but Mr Favreto stood his ground, reaffirmed his original decision and warned that Mr Moro should be arrested for failing to comply with an order by a higher court.

He signed an order which stated: “The release order must be urgently complied with today by the presentation of this order to any police authority at the prison centre of the federal police office in Curitiba.”

However, a third judge, president of the Federal Regional Court Thomson Flores, overruled the order and said the decision to keep Lula behind bars remained valid.

Mr Flores maintained that the decision on Lula’s freedom could only be made by Judge Joao Gebran Neto, who has been presiding over the case.

Workers Party spokeswoman Gleisi Hoffmann said at a demonstration outside the prison: “Why this manoeuvring from the Brazilian court and the federal police in this slow-paced operation on Lula’s freedom, taking their time with administrative moves that are not legal? This is embarrassing for Brazil in the face of the world.”

Lula was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his alleged involvement in corruption and money-laundering. He continues to deny the charges, claiming they are “politically motivated.”

In a statement the Workers Party said the court now recognises Lula has the right to defend his freedom under the constitution.

”Society has the right to know, through the voice of Lula himself, his proposals to get Brazil out of this immense crisis, to resume the path of democracy, social justice and the construction of the equality,” the statement concluded.

Lula has been announced as the Workers Party candidate in October’s presidential election, remaining comfortably ahead in the polls.

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