Exclusive: “Lula” da Silva Speaks to Brut From Prison

He has been imprisoned for 18 months. His life in detention, Trump, Bolsonaro, the Amazon... Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva talks to Brut from prison in this exclusive interview.

Lula’s free and ready to fight

The Brazilian Supreme Court (STF) reversed recent precedents by ruling that defendants can only be put in jail after they’ve gone through all of the appeals processes available to them. This has had significant implications for at least 15 Lava Jato defendants – including former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is currently freed from jail and released on appeal if after the Court indeed reversed itself. In 2016 the STF adopted the understanding that defendants who have a conviction upheld by a single appellate court may be sent to jail to begin serving their sentences. Based on this principle, a number of Lava Jato defendants, including Lula, were jailed while their sentences were still under appeal.

With former president Rousseff’s impeachment – led by then-Speaker of the House Eduardo Cunha, who is now in jail for crimes connected to Lava Jato – her Workers’ Party lost its hold on power. At the same time, Lula, the party’s supreme leader, was facing a criminal case for which he would later be convicted and now released. Based on the new STF interpretation, Lula went straight to jail after an appellate court confirmed his conviction. The former Brazilian president is serving nearly nine years for corruption and money-laundering. He rejected prosecutors’ request that he leave prison for house arrest, in accordance with a Brazilian law that lets prisoners with good conduct and who have already served one-sixth of their jail time complete their sentence under a less-restrictive system.

Lula was the most high-profile figure ensnared by a graft probe known as Carwash, which uncovered a kickback scheme involving state-owned companies, construction firms and politicians. His arrest prevented him from running for president that year, even as opinion polls showed him leading the race that ultimately was won by Bolsonaro.