Former Brazil international Ronaldinho is set to regain his freedom on Monday after spending the last six months detained in Paraguay for entering the country with a fake Paraguayan passport.
The two-time World Player of the Year and his brother Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, who is also his agent, have been standing trial for the offence and were held initially in a prison that houses high-profile criminals but have been under house arrest in the country’s capital since April 7.
Paraguayan media reports now say the country’s Prosecutor’s Office has asked the courts for a “provisional suspension of the procedure” against both men paving the way for their release and return to Brazil.
According to the reports, the Public Ministry told the presiding judge on Friday that since both men face a minimum sentence of two years for the alleged crime, the law allows defendants in such instances to contest the charges without being in custody.
The Prosecutor’s Office, however, requested a “social reparation” of $ 90,000 and that the brothers present themselves quarterly before a competent judge in Brazil to ensure “compliance with the rules of conduct imposed” on both.
The brief, signed by the four prosecutors in charge of the case, was presented before the criminal guarantee judge, Gustavo Amarilla, who could rule this Monday, judicial sources quoted by the media said.
The brothers are accused of “using public documents of false content” an offence that carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Another man who travelled with the brothers – 45-year-old Wilmondes Sousa Lira – was also arrested but was released on June 17 last and is also in a hotel in the capital under house arrest imposed by an appeal court.
Prosecutors, however, say the investigation “has not detected any element that proves” that Ronaldinho or his brother “had a direct participation in the planning of obtaining the irregular documents”.
The Brazilians deny knowingly procuring false identity documents and their lead lawyer former prosecutor Adolfo Marín, maintains that the documents were a gift to the brothers who had no idea about their provenance.
The 39-year-old former Barcelona star had travelled to Paraguay to promote a book and a campaign for underprivileged children.
Prosecutors alleged that Ronaldinho and his party were received at the Asuncion airport on 4 March by Paraguayan businesswoman Dalia López who then furnished them with the fake passports with which they cleared customs.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, López – who is at large – is the supposed head of a network dedicated to “facilitating the preparation and use of identity documents and passports with false content.”
Although he last played professionally in 2015, Ronaldinho, who also represented Brazilian clubs Atletico Mineiro, Flamengo and Fluminense, is still hugely popular with global football fans for his skills and showmanship.
The 39-year-old was named FIFA world player of the year in 2004 and 2005 and won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006.
Ronaldinho’s net worth is estimated at £80-100m and he is reported to charge around £150,000 for a single promoted Instagram post.