The great Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho will remain in pretrial detention in Paraguay after a judge rejected on Tuesday the request of his lawyer to release him on bail or under house arrest.
The 39-year-old World Cup winner and his brother Roberto were arrested on Friday, accused of being in possession of false Paraguayan passports.
“The judge rejected the request for parole or house arrest,” said prosecutor Osmar Legal.
Judge Gustavo Amarilla cited the gravity of the case and the discovery of new evidence, as well as the involvement of public officials and business people who facilitated the arrival of Ronaldinho in Paraguay.
These factors meant that the former footballer should be kept in Asuncion “so that there would be no obstruction of the investigation,” he said.
Amarilla acknowledged that the measures taken against the brothers were harsh but said it was her “responsibility not to obstruct an investigation”, which could be the case if the suspects “were to flee” the country.
Legal said it objected to house arrest because the property offered as security was only valued at $ 750,000 to $ 800,000.
“It is a minimal amount given the economic creditworthiness of one of the defendants,” he said.
Ronaldinho and his brother spend a fifth day in a police cell in Asuncion.
They arrived in Asuncion from Brazil on Wednesday and showed their passports to the immigration police, who did not immediately notice any problems with the documents.
A few hours later, when the passports were found to be false, the investigators raided the football star’s hotel room and seized the brothers’ identity cards and travel documents.
Ronaldinho said the passports were given to him by people who invited him to attend conferences sponsored by charities working with disadvantaged children.
A Brazilian businessman was also arrested in connection with the false passports, while two Paraguayans were placed under house arrest and the director of migration for Paraguay resigned.
Ronaldinho’s Brazilian lawyer Sergio Queiroz said the brothers had received Paraguayan passports “to facilitate the possibility of doing business” in Paraguay.
“Ronaldinho did not commit any crime because he did not know that the passport they had given him was rigged,” he said.
The charity’s administrator who invited Ronaldinho, Dalia Lopez, admitted asking for the passports but said she did not know they had been forged.
An arrest warrant has been issued against his arrest.
Amarilla said the investigation was examining a possible criminal association and money laundering.
Ronaldinho, considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, was one of the stars of the 2002 World Cup victory in Brazil and played for the European giants Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan , among others.