Jailed Lula loses complaint over lack of TV network coverage

FILE PHOTO: Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is carried by supporters in front of the metallurgic trade union in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Brazil April 7, 2018. REUTERS/Leonardo Benassatto/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s electoral court threw out a complaint by jailed former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that television networks were not covering his campaign in their newscasts, even though he is a candidate in the October presidential race.

The decision by the court, known as the TSE, increases the likelihood that its judges will declare Lula ineligible to run due to his corruption conviction that was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year.

His running mate Fernando Haddad, a former mayor of Sao Paulo who is slated to head the Workers Party ticket when Lula is barred, has been campaigning but cannot take part in the presidential debates.

Voter support for Haddad remains in the single digits and his chances will depend on Lula’s ability to transfer support to his stand-in, who is hardly known in many parts of the country.

Lula was jailed in April to begin serving a 12-year sentence for receiving bribes but he continues to pull the strings in Brazilian politics from a 160-square-foot room at the federal police building in the southern city of Curitiba where he has no cellphone, cable TV or Internet connection.

The TSE voted 6-1 to reject Lula’s appeal against the networks, which have ignored the leftist leader because he is in jail. Lula argued that he remains an official candidate until the TSE rules on whether he is eligible to run for office.

Brazil’s Supreme Court will weigh an appeal by Lula to be set free so he can join the campaign that is already underway. Regardless of whether he is freed or not while awaiting appeals of his conviction, Brazilian electoral law bans candidates whose guilty verdicts have been upheld on appeal, as is Lula’s case.

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