BRASILIA.– The three judges charged with reviewing the appeal presented by the former President's defense agreed on denying its allegations, and supported the vote of relateur Joao Pedro Gebran Neto, who went so far as to increase the sentence imposed by Moro (of nine and a half years) to 12 years and one month in prison.
Nevertheless, the court stated that it would not order Lula's imprisonment until all appeals have been exhausted, meaning that the former President - who is leading the polls for upcoming elections - still has the option of making further legal moves to overturn his conviction.
For many, this is a strategic move directed toward preventing Lula's candidacy in this year's Presidential elections and exclude him from the political arena, as occurred with his successor Dilma Rousseff in 2016.
The former President commented on social networks, "The only thing I am sure of is that, only on the day I die, will I stop fighting."
What happens now?
Local analysts say that, following the unanimous vote (3-0), the defense team has the right, via an appeals process, to request an explaination of points in the TRF4 report, which must be filed within two days of the ruling.
Once the process at this level is completed, the defense can file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Justice and the Supreme Federal Court (STF).
Will Lula be able to run for President?
Until a final ruling is made, the defense team has several avenues at its disposal to prolong the process and avoid any legal declaration that Lula is ineligible on the day candidates formally register for the Presidential race, August 15, 2018.
The Brazilian Electoral Court can only rule Lula ineligible if all appeals at lower levels have been exhausted, and no higher courts has issued a stay. (Granma)