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6 Mar, 2020 11:51

By the skin of his teeth: Ronaldinho to avoid prosecution despite traveling to Paraguay with false passport

By the skin of his teeth: Ronaldinho to avoid prosecution despite traveling to Paraguay with false passport

Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto narrowly avoided prosecution after being caught traveling to Paraguay with false documentation.

Officials in Paraguay confirmed on Thursday that Ronaldinho, full name Ronaldo De Assis Moreira, and his brother Roberto had admitted the error and, as a result, were spared prosecution, with the Public Ministry in Paraguay satisfied that the pair had been "deceived in their good faith."

They were allowed to go free due to an appeal called the "criterion of opportunity," which applies to situations where suspects have admitted wrongdoing, but have no prior criminal record in Paraguay.

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Prosecutor Federico Delfino said in a statement that he had recommended not pursuing Ronaldinho and his brother, "...on the condition of admitting committing the crime of which they are accused, in this case, the use of false documents."

Delfino explained that the Public Ministry had "proceeded to charge several people" in connection with the false papers, with the accused pair assisting with police inquiries.

"Ronaldinho and his brother Roberto contributed relevant information to the investigation," continued Delfino, who said the two brothers were acting in "good faith" when receiving the false paperwork.

"The information that they provided is very useful in disrupting a criminal organization dedicated to the production of false documents," he said.

Ronaldinho was en route to the capital city of Asuncion to promote his new book and to meet with a foundation for needy children in the region.

But after it was discovered he and his brother had false paperwork, the pair were questioned for more than seven hours by the public prosecutor before eventually being released.

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"They decided voluntarily to stay and submit themselves to the public prosecutor's investigations," said Ronaldinho's Paraguayan lawyer Adolfo Marin.

The inspector leading the investigation, Gilberto Fleitas, revealed that the former Barcelona ace was provided with a fake passport one month ago by Brazilian businessman Wilmondes Sousa Lira, who has since been arrested.