DPA/Rio de Janeiro
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva yesterday appealed to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva to ask the government to prevent his arrest until he has exhausted all appeals against his corruption conviction, his lawyers said.
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request from Lula to stay out of jail in the run-up to the October elections, which he was expected to easily win.
Judge Sergio Moro then issued an arrest warrant for the ex-president, ordering him to report at a police station in the southern city of Curitiba by 5pm local time (2000GMT) yesterday.
“We can confirm that the Human Rights Committee has received a request for ‘interim measures,’” a UN spokeswoman said from Geneva.
Lula’s lawyers argued that the Supreme Court had narrowly adopted its ruling with only six votes against five, which “shows the need for an independent court to examine if the presumption of innocence was violated in Lula’s case.”
The Human Rights Committee will now deliberate the request in the coming days.
The civil rights watchdog body has the right to ask countries to take urgent measures to prevent irreparable harm to an individual who is seeking the committee’s help.
This includes the risk of execution or deportation that would lead to torture.
In another attempt to prevent Lula from being jailed, the lawyers requested habeas corpus against Moro’s arrest warrant at the Superior Court of Justice, the country’s second-highest after the Supreme Court, according to the news portal G1 and other media.
The newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo quoted Lula as saying that he did not intend to fly to Curitiba. The lawyers did not comment on the report.
The 72-year-old former leader of the metal workers’ union reportedly spent Thursday night at the union headquarters near Sao Paulo, where he held talks with his lawyers and members of his Workers’ Party.
Protesters blocked roads around the country yesterday, according to the pro-Lula organisation Movement of Rural Workers Without Land (MST).
Hundreds of demostrators meanwhile gathered to show support for Lula outside the metal workers’ union building.
Lula was convicted of corruption and money-laundering in July in connection with the renovation of a beachside penthouse. The renovation was bankrolled by a company seeking contracts with the state oil giant Petrobras.
Moro sentenced Lula to nine-and-a-half years, and an appeals court in Porto Alegre raised the sentence to 12 years and one month.
The case was linked to the massive Lava Jato corruption scandal surrounding Petrobras, which has led to dozens of entrepreneurs and politicians being jailed.
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