World Bulletin / News Desk
Brazil's supreme court was to rule Wednesday on whether former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva should start a 12-year prison sentence for corruption, potentially upending this year's presidential election.
From early morning in the capital Brasilia, roads leading to the Supreme Court were blocked off and protesters were expected to gather in the coming hours.
Late Tuesday, up to 20,000 people demonstrated in Brazil's biggest city, Sao Paulo, to demand Lula go to prison and be barred from the election.
The court, which has come under intense political pressure, was due to start deliberations at 2:00 pm (1700 GMT). With 11 justices casting votes, the session was likely to be lengthy.
Lula, 72, 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 means he should go immediately to prison, even while conducting further appeals in higher courts. However, Lula has asked the Supreme Court to grant him habeas corpus, allowing him to remain free while pursuing those appeals.
The court is believed to be evenly split on the issue, so that if only one judge changed position it would secure Lula's temporary freedom, and boost his uphill bid for a third term in office.
If the court turns him down, he could face jail within days.Last Mod: 04 Nisan 2018, 18:21