One time Brazilian football star Ronaldinho was on Monday released from detention by a Paraguayan Judge, Gustavo Amarilla, after five months.
The 40year old World Cup winner, who was detained over a forged passport was released alongside his brother Roberto de Assis Moreira, who for the same charge had been held for a month in jail and another four months under house arrest in a hotel in Paraguay’s capital, Asuncion.
According to Judge Amarilla, the one time international football sensation “is free to travel to whatever country in the world he wants but he must inform us if he changes his permanent residence for a period of one year.
“He has no restrictions except for the fulfilment of reparations for damage to society”, which include payment of $90,000 in damages, a decision he accepted as part of terms for his freedom.
Also, Ronaldinho’s brother, who doubles as his business manager, must pay $110,000.
in his statement, Judge Amarilla stressed that he was not issuing a “definitive dismissal” of the case but rather that Ronaldinho was benefitting from a “conditional suspension of the procedure.”
His brother, on the other hand, was given a two-year suspended sentence.
Prosecutors stated that they did not believe Ronaldinho took part in the plan to manufacture the fake Paraguayan passports but believed de Assis Moreira was aware that the passports were false.
“They flagrantly used a public document containing false content,” said Marcelo Pecci, one of the public prosecutors, who said it was a “very serious” offense.
De Assis Moreira must appear before a judge in Brazil every four months for two years and will have a criminal record.
“Ronaldinho’s situation is not the same as Roberto’s. He has no obligation to appear before any Brazilian judicial authority. He must only report a change of address,” said Amarilla, who accepted a recommendation by four prosecutors to avoid the need for an oral trial.
Before Monday’s trial, the public prosecutor said that Ronaldinho displayed no “personal characteristics or criminal behaviour that … would put society at risk.”
The brothers who arrived in Paraguay on March 4 to attend an event in support of disadvantaged children were taken into police custody when investigators raided their hotel following the discovery they had fake documents.
However, just before the Judgement, their lawyer issued a statement insisting that both brothers were innocent.
“They presented Paraguayan documents to migration authorities believing they were authentic,” said the statement. “The people they trusted deceived them vilely”, the defense lawyer argued.
The two men had been under house arrest for more than four months in a luxury hotel in the capital, on bail of $1.6 million.
Ronaldinho, who is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, and played a crucial role in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup win celebrated his 40th birthday in dentition.
While investigation has since expanded into a case of possible money laundering and criminal association that has led to the arrest of some18 people in connection with the case, most of them immigration officials or police officers, defense counsel to the brothers stated that:
“The investigation found no indication that either participated in money laundering or criminal association”.