Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was on the verge of going to prison Thursday after the Supreme Court rejected his bid to delay a 12 year sentence for corruption in a ruling that split the country and upended this year’s election.
Following the court’s narrow decision against allowing Lula to remain free pending new appeals, it was expected that Brazil’s chief anti-corruption judge, Sergio Moro, would soon issue an order for the two-term former president to be incarcerated.
It remained unclear exactly when this would take place. But legal experts said it would be no more than a few days away, possibly early next week.
Lula is considered the face of corruption sweeping the country’s political elite. His imprisonment has long been the goal of prosecutors running Brazil’s “Car Wash” anti-graft investigation and he is now their biggest scalp.
Lula was sentenced to 12 years and one month prison after being convicted last year of accepting a seaside apartment as a bribe from a major construction company seeking government contracts. He appealed in a lower court but lost.
Under current law, that meant he should go immediately to prison, even while conducting further appeals in two higher courts. However, Lula applied to the Supreme Court for habeas corpus, allowing him to remain free during the appeals, potentially keeping him out of jail for a long period.