Ronaldinho to remain behind bars in Paraguay over fake passport claim

Former Brazilian international star Ronaldinho Gaucho and his brother have been ordered to remain in jail in Paraguay on Saturday after a judge ruled him a flight risk after allegedly entering the country with falsified documents.

Former soccer star Ronaldinho, second from left, and his brother Roberto de Assis Moreira walks escorted by police officers to declare to judge Clara Ruiz Diaz at Justice Palace in Asuncion, Paraguay. Credit:AP

The ex-Barcelona forward was arrested on Friday for attempting to enter Paraguay with a false passport two days previously and spent Friday night in a police cell along with his brother and business manager Roberto Assis.

The duo had petitioned for release but judge Clara Ruiz Diaz said their alleged offence was a "serious one against the interests of the Paraguayan state". Because the pair posed a flight risk they must remain in custody, she added.

Ronaldinho’s lawyer said he found the decision "incredible" and would appeal.

"He (Ronaldinho) doesn’t understand what’s going on," Tarek Tuma told reporters.

Defence lawyer Sergio Queiroz had said Ronaldinho, the 2002 World Cup winner and former Barcelona star, was preparing to take a flight back to Rio de Janeiro, where he lives, shortly before the arrests.

Ronaldinho playing for FC Barcelona in 2007.Credit:AP

Ronaldinho and Assis had said they went to Asuncion for business reasons.

The former footballer and his brother said the documents were offered as a gift by a Brazilian businessman, Wilmondes Sousa Liria, who has been jailed.

Ronaldinho's passport was seized in November 2018 because of a lawsuit over alleged environmental crimes.

Authorities said the former Barcelona star did not have the necessary environmental license to build a fishing platform on the shores of the Guaiba river in his hometown of Porto Alegre.

Former soccer star Ronaldinho is escorted by police. Credit:AP

With unpaid damages of $US2.1 million ($3.2 million), Ronaldinho's passport was seized, along with that of his brother, to prevent him from travelling.

In September of last year, however, the star reached a deal with prosecutors and got his documents back. It was not immediately clear why he and his brother did not use their Brazilian documents for the trip to Paraguay.

Reuters, AAP

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