Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has left the federal police building in Curitiba where he had been detained as a prisoner since April 2018.
Da Silva embraced his girlfriend Friday as he came out, a free man, for now.
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. Lula is one of several thousand convicts who could benefit from the decision.
Following the Supreme Court verdict, Lula’s lawyers requested the immediate release of the 74-year-old leftist icon, who has been serving a nearly nine-year sentence for corruption and money laundering.
Many of those affected by the 6-5 ruling are political and business leaders caught up in a massive corruption probe dubbed Car Wash that began in 2014.
Supporters hope Lula will “leave the room where he has been kidnapped for 580 days, walk among the people and come to the vigil, hug the people, and we hug him, to share this special moment,” Roberto Baggio, coordinator of the Free Lula camp outside the jail, told AFP.
Lula, who led Brazil through a historic boom from 2003 to 2010, earning him the gratitude of millions of Brazilians for redistributing wealth to haul them out of poverty, is serving eight years and 10 months for corruption.
He was sentenced to almost 13 years in jail in February in a separate corruption case and still faces another half dozen corruption trials.
Lula has denied all the charges, arguing they were politically motivated to keep him out of the 2018 presidential election that was won by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.