Ronaldinho and his brother will remain in Paraguay for the time being, the investigating judge decided on March 10, 2020. - Jorge Saenz / AP / SIPA
A Paraguayan judge decided Tuesday to keep Ronaldinho in pretrial detention for using a false passport, announced the prosecutor Osmar Legal. "The judge rejected the request for the defense of parole or house arrest" of the 39-year-old former player, the representative of the public prosecutor told journalists.
Judge fears flight of two men
At his side, the new judge in charge of the case, Gustavo Amarilla, said he had kept Ronaldinho and his brother behind bars so that they remain "at the disposal of justice". He said that given the scale of the case and the alleged involvement of officials and business leaders who facilitated the arrival of Ronaldinho in Paraguay, the presence of the two men in Asuncion was necessary for the smooth running of the investigation.
"I recognize that (this case) may deserve a less restrictive measure (than detention). But it is my responsibility not to disturb the investigation by the prosecution. And that could be the case with a possible leak "of the two accused, said the judge.
Ronaldinho's lawyers try to speed up the release of their client via @ 20minutesSport https://t.co/Ms4PjdN4rs- 20 Minutes Sport (@ 20minutesSport) March 10, 2020
Ronaldinho was arrested on March 6 with his brother Roberto. Both are accused of entering Paraguay in possession of false passports. Their pre-trial detention was confirmed on Saturday by a judge from the Paraguayan capital. The 2005 Ballon d'Or arrived on Wednesday with his brother in Asuncion to promote a book and participate in various charitable operations, including the initiative of a foundation, Fraternidad Angelical, which helps poor children .
The two men showed their passports to the immigration police, who did not immediately find any discrepancies. Paraguayan police then searched the hotel where the two men were staying, and investigators discovered false Paraguayan passports made in Asuncion a few months ago, according to Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo.
"Ronaldinho did not know that the passport given to him was a fake"
The defense of the former player has blamed the organization of the trip to Paraguay on the Fraternidad Angelical foundation, whose president Dalia Lopez is the subject of an arrest warrant. According to Sergio Queiroz, the champion's Brazilian lawyer, the passports were offered by the foundation to Ronaldinho to "facilitate the possibility of doing business" in the country. "Ronaldinho did not commit any crime because he did not know that the passport given to him was a fake," said the lawyer on Sunday.
Marcos Estigarribia, Dalia Lopez's lawyer, said that his client had asked intermediaries to take steps to obtain authentic passports at the request of the two brothers who wanted to "do business in Paraguay".
Paraguay: Ronaldinho Spends Third Night In Prison