Brasilia: Brazilian judge Joaquim Barbosa, the first black to head the country`s Supreme Court, has resigned from the post after a year and a half, the Senate speaker said Thursday.
"He is going to retire next month. We`re very sorry to see him go because he`s one of Brazil`s best people," said Speaker Renan Calheiros.
Barbosa, 59, is a popular figure considered a possible contender for the presidency -- though he has said he will not run in elections in October this year.
He rose to fame for his stern handling of a trial that convicted 25 businessmen and politicians, including former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva`s ex-chief of staff, for buying congressional votes in a scandal known as the "mensalao," or "big monthly payment."
Editorial cartoons and social networks often depicted him as Batman for his crime-fighting image and his black judge`s robe.
The son of a bricklayer and a cleaner, he earned a PhD in public law at France`s Sorbonne university.
His elevation to the nation`s top judicial post was heralded as a breakthrough in Brazil, the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, in 1888.
Despite making up a majority of the population, Afro-Brazilians continue to languish at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.