A majority of Brazil's top electoral court shot down late Friday the candidacy of popular leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the country's upcoming presidential vote, telling the jailed former leader he cannot participate in October's critical election.
The vote punctuated a gripping case that has roiled the country for months, with Lula, 72, remaining the top contender among Brazilians to lead Latin America's largest economy -- despite sitting behind bars since April for accepting a bribe.
In an extraordinary session the Superior Electoral Court dashed Lula's hopes after hours of debate, with the judges voting an overwhelming 6-1 against him.
Shortly thereafter, the former president's Workers' Party (PT) vowed to "fight with all means" to secure candidacy for the leftist icon.
Lula's case was a last-minute addition to the court session. The result was expected, but the vote of Judge Edson Fachin, the second to speak, had momentarily rekindled suspense.
Lula has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting a luxury seaside apartment as a bribe from a construction firm.
He vehemently denies the accusations and has dismissed the charges as a political plot aimed at preventing him from standing in the elections.
The court's decision would be open to appeal.
Despite the uncertainty over his ability to stand, Lula currently leads polls with more than double the share of his nearest challenger, the right-winger Jair Bolsonaro.