Justices on Brazil's highest court appear to be moving toward denying a petition from former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to stay out of prison while he appeals a 12-year sentence for corruption.
Ousted president Dilma Rousseff has spoken candidly about the assumed political motivations of Lula's conviction: to prevent his candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections.
The appeal would nearly certainly be quickly rejected and Lula, once one of the world's most popular politicians, would be ordered to start his sentence immediately.
In an unrelated case in 2016, the Supreme Federal Tribunal disagreed with that logic, ruling that a convict could start serving a sentence after a first appeal was denied. Late yesterday, up to 20,000 people demonstrated in Brazil's biggest city, Sao Paulo, to demand Lula go to prison and be barred from the election.
His supporters see the conviction as a ploy to stop him returning to power. "The Workers' Party will defend this candidacy on the streets and in every court until the last consequences". According to the ruling, Lula may now be detained at any time and will likely not be allowed to run for the country's top seat in October.
Alexandar Bonilla, CC BY 2.0)Lula was convicted in 2017 of corruption for receiving roughly US$755,000 in bribes from construction company "OAS" in an apartment swap, where a simple flat bought by Lula was traded for a seaside apartment in the same building.
Critics said General Eduardo Villas Boas' statements on Twitter placed undue pressure on the court and were insensitive to the military's past role in ousting democratically-elected governments in Brazil.
A former metalworker and trade union activist, he was the first left-wing leader to make it to the presidency in Brazil in almost half a century. The conviction was handed down by Judge Sergio Moro, who is presiding over cases involving the mammoth "Car Wash" investigation.
Lula himself was convicted of receiving a renovated beachfront apartment worth some 3.7 million reais ($1.1m, £790,000), as a bribe by engineering firm OAS.
Here is the time line on the latest developments before the ruling.
In a hammer blow to Lula's hopes, the Supreme Court (STF) ruled by a slim six-to-five majority to reject his claim for habeas corpus, leaving a slim judicial review remedy available to the former president's defence lawyers.
This process could take months or even years.
Lula's conviction was upheld on a first appeal. The conviction was upheld by an appeals court in January.
A demonstrator against holds a poster that says in Portuguese "Lula in jail" outside the National Congress in Brasilia.
However, numerous exceptions to the law, known as the "clean slate", have been made since its introduction in 2010.
The TSE will not make a decision on whether Lula can run or not until he has registered as a candidate and he has until 15 August to do so.