Brazil judge rules to keep da Silva in jail after dispute

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Brazil: The president of a Brazilian appeals court whose judges issued contradictory rulings Sunday on whether former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva should be freed ordered late in the day that he remain jailed.

The duty judge on the Fourth Federal Regional Tribunal started off the day by ordering that da Silva be released Sunday morning. That set off a dramatic back-and-forth during the day as one judge refused to follow that order and another contradicted it.

The dispute underscored how contentious da Silva’s jailing has become in Brazil, where some see it as proof that no one is above the law and others feel the charges against the former president were trumped up to prevent him from running for office again.

After the initial release order was issued, hundreds of da Silva’s supporters gathered outside the federal police headquarters where he was being held in the southeastern city of Curitiba. The atmosphere was festive as they waved flags of da Silva’s Workers’ Part or a drawing of his face while shouting, “Free Lula!” Several hundred people also gathered earlier in Rio de Janeiro to call for da Silva’s release.

Late Sunday, Judge Carlos Eduardo Thompson Flores Lenz intervened in an effort to resolve the dispute and ruled that da Silva should remain in jail. Two analysts said that should settle the matter — at least for the moment. The defense can always appeal to a higher court, and the chaos of Sunday showed that Brazilian law is open to interpretation and maneuvering.

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