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Court decision to jail former president divides Brazil

The case of former president Lula da Silva has polarised Brazil
The case of former president Lula da Silva has polarised Brazil
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By Mark Armstrong with Reuters
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Lula da Silva could go to prison within days on a corruption conviction. Incarceration would prevent him standing in October's presidential election.

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People in Brazil have been reacting to the news that former president Lula da Silva will have to go to prison on corruption charges. A court narrowly rejected an attempt by his lawyers to keep him out of jail while he appeals the verdict. Lula leads the polls in October's upcoming election and the case has divided the country.

"A thief must go to jail," said one man in Sao Paolo. "Few thieves have been arrested in Brazil, many others need to be arrested."

But this woman was critical of the court's decision:

"This decision is ridiculous because it was applied to only one person. As if Lula were the only thief in this country and we know that there are many more of them in their houses, happy and content. Lula's case has become like a big soccer dispute."

Lula's jailing would prevent him standing in the presidential election. Although the case has divided the nation he still commands considerable support.

He argues that the charges against him are politically motivated to stop him standing in the election.

The decision means he will likely be jailed soon, though probably not until at least next week thanks to various technicalities.

The court's debate underscored how fraught the matter is at a time of high tension and angst in Brazil, which is struggling to emerge from a crippling recession and is four years into a major corruption scandal that has ensnared much of the country's elite, including da Silva.

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