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UN human rights committee asks Brazil to let Lula run in election

UN body says imprisoned former president cannot be disqualified from poll because his legal appeals are still ongoing.

Luiz Inacio ‘Lula’ da Silva

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has called for imprisoned former president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva to be allowed to run as a candidate in October's presidential elections. 

The committee, which oversees countries' compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, said on Friday that Lula cannot be disqualified from the poll because his legal appeals are still ongoing.

In an emailed statement, the committee said they urged Brazil "not to prevent him from standing for election in the 2018 presidential elections, until his appeals before the courts have been completed in fair judicial proceedings".

Brazil's Workers Party nominated Lula as their candidate earlier this month, despite him currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for corruption. 

The former president is leading the polls by a wide margin. He and his supporters say the charges are politically motivated. 

Under Brazilian law, candidates with a conviction upheld cannot hold office for eight years.

But a conviction does not bar them from campaigning.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which has until September 17 to rule on Lula's candidacy, is expected to bar the 72-year-old from running, a decision his lawyers could then appeal to the Supreme Court. 

Car Wash conviction

Voters go to the polls on October 7 to pick their next president, as well as vote for their local and national representatives and state governors.

In no presidential candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff vote between the top two contenders will take place on October 28.

Lula, who ruled Brazil for two terms (2003-2010), was convicted of corruption in a sprawling investigation that has been called Car Wash.

He says the charges are part of a political witch-hunt to keep him from running for president.

He was imprisoned in April, after the country's Supreme Federal Tribunal denied his request to stay out of prison until he has exhausted all appeals against his conviction.  

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