By Alix Hardy
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was found not guilty Thursday of obstruction of justice in one of several cases the jailed politician faces.
Federal Judge Ricardo Leite’s ruling was not unexpected as the public prosecutor had also asked the judge to acquit Lula, arguing it had not found sufficient evidence to support the accusations.
“The investigation did not allow the reconstruction of reality. There can be numerous possibilities and circumstances of what really happened” based on the evidence presented, Leite said in his ruling.
The former president had been accused of trying to prevent or influence the testimony of Nestor Cervero, the former international director of state-run oil firm Petrobras, who was sentenced to prison on charges of corruption and money laundering as part of Operation Car Wash, an anti-corruption probe also known as the Petrobras case.
Lula, who is currently in prison after being found guilty of graft in another case, is also the favorite in next October’s presidential election, although it is probable that the court that rules on electoral matters such as eligibility will shortly cancel his candidacy. He has served three months of his 12-year sentence.
He was almost freed on July 8 when a regional court of appeal judge ordered his release, but after a judicial tug of war, the court’s president ruled he should stay incarcerated.