Top Brazil appeals court denies Lula bid to stay out of prison

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s top appeals court on Tuesday denied a request by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that he not be sent to prison on a corruption conviction before he has exhausted his appeals.

The decision by the Superior Court of Justice makes it more likely that Lula, whose conviction on corruption charges was upheld in January by a lower appeals court, could be forced to begin serving out his 12-year sentence in a matter of weeks, even as he appeals to higher courts.

Lula, Brazil’s first working-class president, 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. He leads all early polls.

However, he is likely to be blocked from running by a law that bars the candidacy of any politician with a criminal conviction upheld on appeal.

Lula faces six other corruption-related trials. Even if he is found guilty in one of the other trials, it is unlikely there would be any appeals decisions in those cases before the October election.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito in Brasilia; Additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Sao Paulo; Editing by Cynthia Osterman