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Friday November 22nd, 2019 1:47PM

The Latest: Venezuela's Maduro celebrates Da Silva's release

By The Associated Press
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SAO PAULO (AP) — The Latest on Brazilian former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is celebrating former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's release from jail as a step toward rebuilding unity in South America.

Maduro Friday afternoon narrated the breaking news in Brazil during his own broadcast on state TV from Caracas. 

The socialist Venezuelan president calls Da Silva a great leader of Brazil, Latin America, the Caribbean and the world. 

Da Silva left the jail where he had been detained since April 2018 after a judge ordered his release. The judge's order followed a Supreme Court ruling that a person can be imprisoned only after all appeals to higher courts have been exhausted.

Da Silva is still appealing the case that put him behind bars, related to the alleged purchase of a beachfront apartment in Sao Paulo state.

___

5:45 p.m.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has left the jail where he had been detained since April 2018.

Da Silva embraced his girlfriend Friday as he came out of the federal police building in Curitiba.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the building cheered and applauded the former leader.

A Brazilian judge ordered his release early Friday after the Supreme Court ruled that a person can be imprisoned only after all appeals to higher courts have been exhausted.

Da Silva is still appealing the case that put him behind bars, related to the alleged purchase of a beachfront apartment in Sao Paulo state.

Da Silva, who governed from 2003 to 2010, had been favored to win the 2018 presidential election, but his conviction prohibited him from running.

___

1:30 p.m.

Brazil's Supreme Court delivered a ruling that could release almost 5,000 inmates still appealing their convictions, including former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and other powerful figures jailed in a sprawling corruption investigation.

The court decided in a 6-5 vote late Thursday that a person can be imprisoned only after all appeals to higher courts have been exhausted.

The decision appears to cover Da Silva, whose attorneys said they will request his release Friday. That move will initially depend on a judge based in the southern city of Curitiba, where the former president is jailed.

The ruling also covers others convicted in cases arising from the so-called Car Wash investigation, which has ensnared dozens of top politicians and business leaders in Latin America's largest nation. They will now be able to seek release.

Prosecutors from the Car Wash probe said in a statement the top court's decision "goes against the sentiment of repudiating impunity and the fight against corruption."

Supporters of Da Silva celebrated the ruling, holding up signs saying "Lula," the name by which the president who governed from 2003 to 2010 is universally known here.

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