Former Brazilian football star Ronaldinho and his brother appeared in an Asuncion court on Thursday accused of having entered Paraguay using forged passports.
The former World Cup winner arrived at court in the morning alongside Paraguayan lawyer Adolfo Marin, AFP reporters at the scene said.
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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.
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.
Ronaldinho and his brother traveled using “doctored Paraguayan passports and fake identity cards,” Delfino said.
Social media reports allege Ronaldinho ran into trouble because his passport said he was a Paraguayan citizen.
Ronaldinho and his brother have been arrested for entering Paraguay with fake passports.— Football Tweet (@Football__Tweet) March 5, 2020
His fake passport shows his correct name, birthplace, and birthdate, but it falsely suggests that he’s a naturalized Paragauay citizen. 🇵🇾😳 pic.twitter.com/x4qBTijJMQ
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.
“Over the course of the day we'll see what measures to take,” said Delfino.
Interior minister Euclides Acevedo 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.
The 39-year-old former Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain forward went to Asuncion to launch a program to encourage children to lead an active lifestyle, and to promote his new book.
Lawyer denies fake passport claims
However Ronaldinho's lawyer later denied that he and his brother had used fake passports.
“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.
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.
with Yahoo Sports Staff