Brazil court bars Lula from running in presidential election (Lead)

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Brasilia : A Brazilian court ordered that former president Lula da Silva, currently in prison, cannot stand as a candidate in the presidential election this year because of a corruption conviction.

The judges from the Supreme Electoral Court on Friday ruled six to one against the once highly popular leader who was leading in the polls for the upcoming elections, Efe news reported.

Lula has been in prison since April on corruption charges which he claims are a sham.

His Workers' Party (PT in Portuguese) called the decision arbitrary and politically motivated, adding that it would appeal the electoral court's ruling.

Luis Roberto Barroso, the investigating judge in the case, accepted the objections against Lula's candidature based on a law known as the 'clean sheets act'.

According to the law, passed by Lula himself in 2010 when he was in power, anyone who is convicted of a crime and has the sentence confirmed in a second hearing, is barred from running in elections.

Despite the legal hurdle, earlier this month his party had named him as its presidential candidate to the electoral commission, along with the Vice-President candidate Fernando Haddad, former education minister and ex-mayor of Sao Paulo, who is most likely to replace him as the party's presidential candidate.

Judge Barroso rejected the arguments in defence of Lula, most of which were based on an appeal by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which had urged the government to allow Lula to run.

Lula was imprisoned on April 7 and is serving a 12-year sentence on charges of corruption and money laundering in a scandal related to state-owned petroleum company Petrobras, for allegedly acquiring a beach apartment as commission from a construction firm.

Recent polls showed that almost 40 per cent of those intending to vote supported the former president, followed by far-right leader Jair Bolsonero.