BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s Supreme Court on Thursday suspended its hearing of a plea from leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that he not be sent to prison for a corruption conviction until he exhausts all possible appeals.
The court said it would restart debate on Lula’s case on April 4, its next session. The justices ruled that until they make a final judgment, Lula cannot be jailed.
In January, an appeals court upheld Lula’s conviction on taking bribes and money laundering and sentenced him to more than 12 years in prison.
Next Monday, that same court is expected to rule on the final procedural appeals by Lula’s legal team.
If it rejects them, under Brazilian law Lula would then be eligible to begin serving his sentence, but that cannot happen until the Supreme Court finalizes its ruling in early April.
Lula, Brazil’s first working-class leader, remains the most popular politician in Latin America’s biggest nation.
He oversaw years of robust growth and falling inequality during a commodity boom last decade, and has said he wants to run again for the presidency in October. Lula leads all early polls.
Reporting by Ricardo Brito and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Matthew Lewis