Brazil court reduces ex-president Lula's sentence
A Brazilian appeals court on Tuesday reduced leftist former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's 12-year sentence for bribery and money laundering.
In a unanimous decision, the four judges on the Superior Court of Justice panel hearing Lula's appeal agreed to uphold his conviction, but reduced the sentence to eight years and 10 months.
The hearing was broadcast live on the court's YouTube channel.
The 73-year-old leftist icon, who has been sentenced to 25 years behind bars in two separate corruption cases, marked his first year in jail earlier this month.
Lula was handed 12 years and one month on charges that he accepted a seaside apartment as a bribe for helping the OAS construction company during his 2003-2010 presidency to get lucrative deals with state oil firm Petrobras.
Lula is also appealing the second sentence of almost 13 years handed down in February for accepting renovation work by two construction companies on a farmhouse in exchange for ensuring they won contracts with Petrobras.
Lula has denied all the charges against him, claiming they were politically motivated with the aim of preventing him competing in elections last year that were won by Brazil's new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
During his election campaign, Bolsonaro said he hoped Lula would "rot in prison."
Lula has been allowed to leave jail twice in the past 12 months -- once for the funeral of his seven-year-old grandson and the other time was to give evidence in court.
The reduced sentence means Lula could be eligible for "semi-open" prison from September or October.
That would enable Lula to sleep in his cell at night but work outside during the day, law professor Lenio Streck told AFP.
But that depends on the outcome of LulaÂ´s appeals in the second conviction.
Lula's efforts to get out of jail were dealt a blow recently when the Supreme Court indefinitely delayed debate on whether a prisoner convicted of a non-violent crime should be released before the end of their appeals process, which could have potentially freed him.
Bolsonaro's victory in October's elections ended decades of center-left rule in Brazil and reduced Lula's chances of freedom.
Soon after winning, Bolsonaro named Sergio Moro, the anticorruption judge who handed Lula his first conviction, as justice minister.
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