Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was released from prison after the Supreme Court overturned a rule requiring convicted criminals to go to jail after losing their first appeal. The former president was serving a 12-year sentence after being found guilty in a corruption case.
The story sent waves of ecstasy among his supporters as their 73-year-old leader, popularly known as Lula, walked out free from Curitiba's jail where he had been imprisoned for 580 days.
Lula thanked his party followers for their support during the hard times. "They did not imprison a man. They tried to kill an idea," Lula said in his speech. "Brazil did not improve, Brazil got worse. The people are going hungry. The people are unemployed. The people do not have formal jobs. People are working for Uber – they're riding bikes to deliver pizzas."
He further said: "You have no idea of the meaning of me being here with you. I, who have been speaking to the Brazilian people through all my life, did not think that I would be able to speak today. Every day you were the democracy's fuel I needed to exist."
Along with Lula, 5,000 prisoners will also be freed as the court ruled that the accused could only be imprisoned after all appeals to the higher courts had been exhausted.
Lula has always denied the charges and said that sending him to jail before the 2018 presidential elections was a clearly politically motivated agenda. He went to jail in April 2018 for corruption and money laundering. The polls had shown that he was leading in the election race. After his conviction, far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro won the elections and became Brazil's president.
Lula served as Brazil's president from 2003 to 2010, a period when Brazil witnessed the blossoming of its economy and reduced inequality. Lula also posted a video on his official twitter account as he is seen working out to the soundtrack from famous Hollywood film 'Rocky'.