Ronaldinho in shock after arrest in alleged passport fraud

Asuncion: Brazilian football great Ronaldinho is in shock after his arrest for allegedly entering Paraguay with a false passport, one of his lawyers has said.

Ronaldinho and his brother, Roberto de Assis, were detained on Wednesday after police raided their presidential suite at a luxury hotel in Asuncion, reports Xinhua new agency.

Adolfo Marin, one of the four lawyers reportedly hired to defend the brothers, said Ronaldinho and Assis had no reason to commit the offense.

“Actually they were victims… they did not need to do that. They could have entered with their Brazilian passports,” Marin told Paraguay’s Radio 730 AM. “Ronaldinho does not understand what has happened so far, he is shocked and surprised by this situation.”

The pair arrived in Paraguay on Wednesday morning to participate in a children’s football clinic and to publicize a new book about Ronaldinho’s career.

Paraguayan prosecutor Federico Delfino told a news conference on Thursday that Ronaldinho and Assis were handed Paraguayan passports “as soon as they got off the plane”.

“Both Mr. Ronaldinho and his brother said they were a gift,” Delfino told reporters. “They have not gone through the process of obtaining Paraguayan nationality. To get Paraguayan nationality or to be naturalised as a Paraguayan you have to have resided in the country.”

In November 2018, Ronaldinho and Assis had their travel documents seized by the Brazilian authorities after failing to pay a fine resulting from a 2015 court case.

The brothers recovered the passports last September — effectively ending a 10-month foreign travel ban — upon paying a million-dollar fine for building a fishing platform without environmental permits.