Brazil's Supreme Court has voted to lift a rule on the detention of criminals – a change that could result in the release of ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The verdict announced on Thursday stipulates that convicted criminals only have to go to jail once they have exhausted their appeals.
The change could lead to the release of thousands of prisoners, including Lula.
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Lula has consistently rejected all allegations against him and claims that they are politically motivated.
After being denied the race, right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro won the race.
Lula's lawyers say they will seek the "immediate release" of the former president after talking to him on Friday.
What was the decision?
The judges voted to reinterpret the country's criminal code in a sixty-five vote on Thursday.
It overrules a three-year rule that imposed immediate jail terms on convicted criminals after losing their first appeal.
Brazil's corruption scandal, known as the Operation Car Wash, originally centered around the state oil company Petrobras. As a result, billions of dollars in bribes were uncovered – and dozens of high-profile business leaders and politicians were arrested.
The compulsory detention rule was used as an aid to prosecutors to obtain convictions and decrypt the main corruption investigation by encouraging suspects to negotiate plea agreements.
Critics argued, however, that it was against the Brazilian constitution – that no one could be deprived of freedom without initiating a due process.
The country's car wash work group described Thursday's upset as "incompatible" with anti-corruption efforts.
The proposed amendment was also rejected by Sergio Moro, the judge who condemned Lula and who now acts as Minister of Justice of Bolsonaro Minister.
Chief Justice Jose Antonio Dias Toffoli, who had cast the casting vote, said the release would be on a case-by-case basis.
The change could affect nearly 5,000 prisoners, according to National Judicial Council estimates.
Whom was Lula accused of?
Lula was imprisoned in 2018 after being sentenced to more than 12 years in prison, and later to 8 years and 10 months in prison for receiving a beachfront home from an engineering bureau involved in the car wash investigation.
Early in the year He was sentenced to another twelve years in prison after being found guilty of bribery in the form of renovations in a country house owned by construction companies.
Lula, 74, argues that all allegations made against him are politically motivated.
He is a former union activist and remains an icon and popular figure of the left.
Gleisi Hoffman, leader of the Lula Labor Party, described Thursday's development as a very important step towards strengthening democracy and the Constitution when threatened by a right-wing extremist government. "