Ronaldinho’s lawyer has said the Brazilian football star was ‘stupid’ rather than guilty as his client posed for a picture in a Paraguayan prison following his arrest for using a fake passport.
Lawyer Adolfo Marin told Brazilian media that Ronaldinho ‘did not understand’ he was using false documents when he travelled to Paraguay last week.
A picture published by Paraguayan media showed the 2002 World Cup winner smiling in a purple vest and a pair of slippers in his cell.
Ronaldinho, and his brother and business manager Roberto Assis, are being held over the false documents but prosecutors say there are ‘indications that other crimes were committed’.
In custody: This picture published by Paraguayan media shows 2002 World Cup winner Ronaldinho smiling in a purple vest and a pair of slippers in his jail cell in Asuncion
Ronaldinho, wearing handcuffs which he covered up with a pink blanket, and his brother Roberto Assis (in the blue shirt) are led into court in Asuncion on Saturday .
Paraguayan judge Clara Ruiz ordered that Ronaldinho and his brother be kept in custody, saying he was accused of a ‘grave and punishable offence against the interests of the Republic of Paraguay’.
The judge added: ‘There is a flight risk and there is a danger of obstruction.
‘We are dealing with a foreigner who entered the country illegally and who remained in the country illegally.
‘The prosecution considered he meets all the requirements. He will remain in preventative prison in the Specialised Unit.’
‘Specialised Unit’ is a term used in Paraguay to refer to a unit in prison designated for high-profile inmates.
But lawyer Marin said Ronaldo had been ‘stupid’ and ‘did not know that he was committing a crime’.
Sergio Queiroz, another lawyer for Ronaldinho and his bother, refused to comment on a prosecutor’s claims that the investigation had been expanded.
Prosecutor Osmar Legal had told Brazilian outlet Globoesporte that there were ‘indications that other crimes were committed’.
‘The case as it was presented is clear,’ Queiroz said. ‘There is no other point being investigated, you can see that there in the documents.’
He called the brothers’ detention ‘arbitrary, abusive and illegal’.
‘They confessed that they used these false passports,’ Queiroz told reporters. ‘But there was no harm done to the Paraguayan state.
‘Roberto and Ronaldinho did not know that the passports were irregular. And they cooperated fully with authorities.’
The former Barcelona and AC Milan star Ronaldinho leaves Paraguay’s Supreme Court in Asuncion after a court appearance on Saturday
Ronaldinho arrives at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport near Asuncion last week, before Paraguayan officials noticed he was using a fake passport
Ronaldinho and his brother arrived in Asuncion from Brazil on Wednesday and showed their passports to immigration police, who did not immediately notice any problem with the documents.
Hours later, when the passports were determined to be fake, investigators raided the room Ronaldinho was staying in and seized the brothers’ identity cards and travel documents.
Queiroz said he would ask for the pair to be released and allowed to return to their home country when they next appear before a judge on Monday.
‘Ronaldinho did not commit a crime because he did not know that the passport they gave him was faked,’ he said.
Queiroz claimed prosecutors had agreed that the footballer had acted in good faith and the decision by a judge to order their detention was unwarranted.
Ronaldinho said the passports had been given him by people who had invited him to attend conferences sponsored by charities working with disadvantaged children.
The brothers were remanded in custody on Saturday after they appeared in court and were accused of trying to enter Paraguay using the doctored travel documents.
Ronaldinho in his heyday, playing for Barcelona in the Spanish top division in 2006
Under Paraguayan law, officials have six months to complete their enquiry. They were remanded in custody after their court appearance on Saturday.
The pair spent Friday and Saturday night in a jail cell in a maximum security facility.
They were given soap, pillows and mosquito repellent and were led into court in handcuffs, although Ronaldinho was allowed to cover them with a blanket.
The former Barcelona player had been invited to Paraguay by a local casino owner and arrived to take part in a football clinic for children and a book launch.
He was greeted at the airport in Asuncion by throngs of fans.
Although he last played professionally in 2015, Ronaldinho is still hugely popular with football fans for his skills and showmanship.
He was a cornerstone of Brazil’s World Cup-winning side in 2002, and later won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006.
He was named FIFA world player of the year in 2004 and 2005.