RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil's second-highest court reduced the sentence of incarcerated former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday, opening the possibility he could be moved to house arrest later this year.
The Superior Court of Justice vote was in response to a request by da Silva's lawyers that it annul the ex-president's corruption conviction or reduce his sentence. The session's four judges voted unanimously to uphold the conviction but lower the sentence from 12 years and one month to eight years and 10 months.
The shorter sentence opens a pathway for da Silva to get out of a cell later this year.
Under Brazilian law, after serving at least one-sixth of their sentence, prisoners can request to serve the remainder under house arrest or under a "semi-open regime" in which inmates leave for work but sleep in prison. Da Silva was jailed in April 2018 and will have served a sixth of the reduced sentence in September.
Da Silva, who was president in 2003-2010, was convicted of corruption and money laundering over a beachfront apartment that prosecutors say he received from a construction company in exchange for lucrative government contracts.
Da Silva and his Worker's Party maintain he is innocent and say he was persecuted by political enemies to prevent him from running for president again. Others believe justice was served for a corrupt politician.
The former president is the most prominent figure jailed in an anti-corruption investigation called "Operation Car Wash" that has snared dozens of prominent politicians and business figures in Brazil.