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Ronaldinho appears in Paraguay court over fake passport allegation

Ronaldinho had his Brazilian passport withdrawn in November 2018 after failing to pay a $2.3 million fine for environmental damage © AFP/File / Norberto DUARTE

ASUNCION, Paraguay, Mar 5 – Former Brazilian football star Ronaldinho and his brother appeared in an Asuncion court on Thursday accused of having entered Paraguay using forged passports.

The former World Cup winner arrived at court in the morning alongside Paraguayan lawyer Adolfo Marin, AFP reporters at the scene said.

According to the inspector leading the investigation Gilberto Fleitas, Ronaldinho was given his fake passport by Brazilian businessman Wilmondes Sousa Lira, who has been arrested.

Former two-time world player of the year Ronaldinho and his brother were detained on Wednesday at their hotel.

Their fake documents were detected upon arrival at the Asuncion international airport, according to lead prosecutor Federico Delfino.

Ronaldinho and his brother traveled using “doctored Paraguayan passports and fake identity cards,” Delfino said.

Brazilian authorities withdrew Ronaldinho’s passport in November 2018 after he failed to pay a $2.5 million fine for environmental damage incurred during the building of a property in Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil.

“Over the course of the day we’ll see what measures to take,” said Delfino.

Interior minister Euclides Acevedo said Ronaldinho’s celebrity would not spare him.

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“As an authority, we couldn’t ignore this irregularity,” he said, adding that those who allowed Ronaldinho into the country would also be investigated.

The 39-year-old former Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain forward went to Asuncion to launch a program to encourage children to lead an active lifestyle, and to promote his new book.

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