A United Nations panel of human rights experts handed a moral victory to former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday, ruling that he was illegally barred from running for the country’s top job in 2018 due to judicial bias.

The Human Rights Committee’s 15-2 decision comes as Lula, 76, prepares to run for president again in October. He issued a statement calling the ruling “a victory for all Brazilians who believe in the rule of law and democracy.”

The leftist leader was favorite in the polls to return to the position he held between 2003 and 2010 when a federal judge, Sergio Moro, found him guilty of corruption and money laundering as a result of a corruption investigation of important politicians and businessmen.

A Lula he was barred from running for the presidency and was sentenced to nine years in prison—a term later extended to 12 years.

But Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court threw out the conviction last year and ruled that Moro was biased against the former president, a decision that was based largely on conversations Moro had with prosecutors through a messaging app and which were revealed by The Intercept Brasil news website.

In its decision, the rights committee noted that Moro had delivered damaging material from the wiretapping to the media of Lula’s conversations and his initial detention for questioning.

“Although the Federal Supreme Court annulled Lula’s conviction and imprisonment in 2021, these decisions were not timely and effective enough to prevent or repair the violations,” Human Rights Committee member Arif Bulkan said in the agency’s statement. .

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