Brazil Supreme Court to consider Lula appeal

Brazil's ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, seen in this file picture, is seeking to be freed from jail in time to run in the next presidential vote; the appeal answer is due Tuesday

Brazil's Supreme Court is scheduled to rule Tuesday on the latest effort by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to be freed, pending new appeals to his 12-year corruption sentence.

Lula, 72, has been behind bars since April after being convicted of accepting a seaside apartment as a bribe from the big Brazilian OAS construction company.

However, with the leftist firebrand still leading in polls ahead of presidential elections in October, his lawyers argue that his case was politically motivated.

On Tuesday, June 26, a panel of Supreme Court judges is scheduled to rule on an appeal for Lula to be freed while he attempts to overturn his sentence. He was imprisoned, as required by the hotly contested current law, after having failed in a lower court appeal.

Lula's imprisonment makes his bid for a political comeback extremely unlikely, despite continued popularity on the left.

But allies believe that if freed by the court, pressure would mount for electoral authorities to allow Lula to compete.

"In addition to seeing his freedom improperly restricted, he runs a serious risk of having his political rights curtailed as well, which, given the ongoing electoral process, is extremely serious and irreversible," Lula's defense team argued to the court.

Lula was president from 2003 to the beginning of 2011. He left office with sky-high ratings, following a commodities-fueled economic boom and widely praised social programs to reduce poverty.

However, his legacy has been badly tarnished by revelations of a massive corruption network that flourished during his presidency, with fallout continuing to shake Brazilian politics.

According to the Eurasia Group consultancy, the appeal "will probably be rejected, like the others."

"We continue to think that judges do not want to appear to be specifically lenient towards the former president and risk a strong backlash from media and half of the population," Eurasia Group wrote.