(Reuters) - A Brazilian appeals court will rule on Wednesday whether to uphold the corruption conviction of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a decision that could sideline him from the 2018 presidential race and even send him to prison.
Following are the possible scenarios Lula faces:
*Lula wins appeal and can register his candidacy by Aug. 15 to run for president in the Oct. 7 election. The popular former president is the favourite in early polling, with 36 percent of voter preferences according to pollster Datafolha.
*Lula’s corruption and money laundering conviction, which carries a sentence of nine years and six months, is upheld unanimously by the three judges on the TRF-4 appeals court panel in Porto Alegre. Lula’s defence can question only the form of the ruling, not the merits of the case. The process would normally wrap up in less than two months at the TRF-4.
*If Wednesday’s decision is not unanimous, Lula has more options for appeal, questioning any points where judges did not agree, be it the severity of the sentence or whether to absolve him. This process before a larger chamber of the same court can take up to seven months, allowing Lula to register his presidential candidacy before the judicial case is resolved, putting him in a stronger position politically.
*Lula can also appeal to higher courts, including the Supreme Court, on constitutional grounds. However, such an appeal would not suspend his ineligibility if his conviction is upheld unless he obtains a preliminary injunction to suspend his conviction issued by the higher courts.
*If Lula gets on the ballot but suffers a setback in the appeals process, the Workers Party has until Sept. 17, or 20 days before the election, to field a replacement candidate
*Barring a presidential candidate for a criminal conviction is unprecedented under Brazil’s current constitution and there are divergent opinions on whether a Lula victory can be annulled if he makes the ballot before the appeals process is completed. Some say he would become president and could not be removed, but others say the Supreme Court would get final say.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia and Lisandra Paraguassú in Porto Alegre, Brazil; Editing by Matthew Lewis