Former Brazilian football star Ronaldinho’s lawyer denied on Thursday that he and his brother had used fake passports to enter Paraguay. The World Cup winner and his brother were questioned for more than seven hours by the public prosecutor in Asuncion after allegedly entering Paraguay using forged documents.
Ronaldinho had been invited to the Paraguayan capital by a foundation for needy children, and to promote his new book. The 39-year-old and his brother went to the prosecutor’s office in the morning alongside Paraguayan lawyer Adolfo Marin.
“They decided voluntarily to stay and submit themselves to the public prosecutor’s investigations,” said Marin. Ronaldinho “didn’t need to use any other document than his own,” Marin added.
According to the inspector leading the investigation Gilberto Fleitas, Ronaldinho was given his fake passport by Brazilian businessman Wilmondes Sousa Lira, who has been arrested. Marin said Ronaldinho had told the public prosecutor that the documents in question were given to him a month ago in Brazil.
Former two-time world player of the year Ronaldinho and his brother were detained on Wednesday at their hotel. Their fake documents were detected upon arrival at the Asuncion international airport, according to lead prosecutor Federico Delfino.
Former Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain forward Ronaldinho and his brother traveled using “doctored Paraguayan passports and fake identity cards,” Delfino said. Brazilian authorities withdrew Ronaldinho’s passport in November 2018 after he failed to pay a $2.5 million fine for environmental damage incurred during the building of a property in Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil.
However, Marin insisted that Ronaldinho had traveled with his own documents and was not subject to travel restrictions. Marin added that the two Brazilians faced no restrictions on their movements in Asuncion. A source from the public prosecutor’s office told AFP that neither risked arrest.
Interior minister Euclides Acevedo earlier said Ronaldinho’s celebrity would not spare him. “As an authority, we couldn’t ignore this irregularity,” he said, adding that those who allowed Ronaldinho into the country would also be investigated.
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