Story By: Juan Mayes, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
Former River Plate striker Nelson Cuevas has visited Ronaldinho in his Paraguayan jail and says the former Barcelona striker has “lost his distinguishing smile” and “is not happy at all”.
Cuevas, 40, visited the former Barcelona star at a Specialised Unit where he and his brother Roberto de Assis are being kept in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion as they are under investigation for entering the country on fake passports.
Specialised Unit is a term used in Paraguay which refers to a prison where high-profile prisoners such as politicians and other public figures are kept.
The former Paraguay striker visited Ronaldinho for a reported five to six hours and spoke with CNN Radio revealing the football legend’s current situation.
Cuevas said: “Ronaldinho is not happy at all, what distinguishes him is his smile, his good energy, his way of being but today, due to the situation he is going through, that smile is lost because he is in prison which is a place he is not accustomed to.”
Despite reports of Ronaldinho enjoying certain accommodations in the prison, Cuevas said: “There is no kind of luxury there.”
Cuevas went on to say he had offered his house as a place for Ronaldinho to stay under house arrest, saying he “offered them my entire residence but evidently it is the lawyers that decide. If everything came out as planned, they would be under house arrest by now.
“Ronaldinho and his brother agreed but their trusted lawyers passed, they must know how to handle this. I took a step back from the case and everything is fine.”
When speaking about the incidents that landed Ronaldinho in prison, Cuevas said: “His brother knew these people, who are bad people.
“They got him in this bad situation and he fell flat on his back but authorities know that his biggest crime was not knowing what was going on.
“What I could see is that he did not even know where he was, he doesn’t take care of those type of things, he has advisors who handle all of that.
“They tell him ‘get up’ and he gets up, they say ‘go there’ and he goes there. Personally I believe he is totally innocent.
“He is a victim of all this but at the same time, he committed a punishable crime, using real documents with falsified information that he was given and from there everything became complicated.”
Ronaldinho’s lawyer Adolfo Marin spoke with local media several weeks ago, shortly after the Brazil icon was placed in prison, and made a similar statement.
Marin said: “The court has not understood that Ronaldinho did not know he was committing a crime because he did not understand that they gave him falsified documents. He is stupid.”
Ronaldinho went to Paraguay earlier this month to participate in a charity event called ‘Angelical Fraternity’ but he was detained by police after he and his brother allegedly used fake passports to enter the country.
Despite reportedly requesting house arrest on several occasions, Paraguay judge Clara Ruiz ordered their arrest saying that “there is a flight risk and there is a danger of obstruction.”
Ronaldinho’s defence claims the passport was given to him as a symbolic gift and he accidentally presented it at the airport thinking it was his Brazilian passport.
The investigation is ongoing.
Cuevas represented Paraguay at the 2002 FIFA World Cup helping them advance to the Round of 16 before being knocked out by Germany.
He also represented Paraguay at the 2006 World Cup but did not make it past the group stage.
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