Retired Brazil soccer star Ronaldinho released in Paraguay

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Ronaldinho, Roberto de Assis Moreira

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, Saturday, March 7, 2020. Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto were alleged to enter to the country with a false Paraguayan passport.(AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Retired Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho was released from house arrest Monday after spending five months detained in Paraguay for entering the country with a false passport.

Paraguayan judge Gustavo Amarilla handed down a suspended sentence of two years in prison for Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto de Assis Moreira, and granted their release. The brothers will also have to pay a fine of $200,000 between the two of them.

Both were arrested last March for possession and use of false Paraguayan passports with which they entered the country to conduct business activities.

The retired soccer star was earlier released from a high-security jail in Paraguay but ordered to serve house arrest at a luxury hotel while he was investigated.

Ronaldinho will be able to return to Brazil immediately. Defense attorneys Tarek Tuma and Alcides Cáceres said their clients will establish residence in Rio de Janeiro.

Ronaldinho, a world champion with Brazil in 2002 and a former star of Barcelona, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, among other clubs, turned 40 years old in Paraguay. He came to the country invited by a local foundation, supposedly to present his autobiography, support a school for poor children and inaugurate a casino.

Prosecutor Marcelo Pecci said Ronaldinho and his brother received received a shortened legal process because “they admitted having had official Paraguayan legal documents but of false content and because they litigated in good faith.”

The retired soccer star told local authorities the document was a gift from a Brazilian businessman, who was also jailed.

Ronaldinho had his Brazilian passport seized at home due to an investigation into alleged environmental crimes, but the document was returned to him in September. One month later he played in a friendly in Israel.

The former Barcelona star could have spent up to five years in jail.

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