Brazil court to rule Monday on Lula corruption case appeal

Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks to supporters in Santana do Livramento, south of Brazil on March 19, 2018

A Brazilian court will rule next week on former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's appeal of his conviction and prison sentence on corruption charges, it said Wednesday.

If the three-judge Regional Federal Court in Porto Alegre, Brazil rejects Lula's appeal on Monday, it could result in his immediate incarceration. He has been sentenced to 12 years and a month in prison.

But the country's top court -- the Supreme Federal Court -- will on Thursday decide whether Lula can remain free on appeal, and a favorable decision would keep him out of jail even if the lower court rules against him.

Lula was found guilty in July 2017 of receiving a luxury seaside apartment as a bribe from a Brazilian construction company in return for contracts with state oil giant Petrobras.

The leftist leader insists he is innocent of the charges and that he is the victim of a campaign to prevent him from running for the presidency in October, a race in which he is currently the frontrunner.

Lula, 72, who was president from 2003 to 2011, has been on a national tour to rally supporters.