ASUNCION : A Paraguayan judge ended the house arrest of former Barcelona player Ronaldhino Baucho on Monday, freeing the way for him to return to Brazil and end a more than five-month ordeal that began when he tried to enter the country with an adulterated passport.

A judge in Asuncion agreed to a ''conditional suspension'' of charges effectively clearing the player of any responsibility for the crime but ordering him to pay $90,000 in cists, which would be given to charitable organizations.

''The precautionary measure of arrest is lifted, there are no more restrictions placed by Paraguayan justice,'' Judge Gustavo Amarilla told the court.

Ronaldhino, who wore a black t-shirt, hat and mask in court, remained expressionless and with arms crossed following the judgement.

 The football star plans to leave the Paraguayan capital Asuncion for Rio de Janeiro on a private plane, Fedrico Gonzales, an advisor to the Paraguayan presidency who also runs the government advisory service and coronavirus-related travel restrictions, told local radio station.

The charismatic striker, who helped Brazil win the 2002 World Cup, was arrested on March 6 along with his brother and business manager Roberto Assis when they tried to enter Paraguay with adulterated Paraguayan passports.

They were held in jail for 32 days before being released into house arrest in a top Asuncion hotel and paying $1.6 million in bail.

According to documents seen by Reuters, prosecutors in the case said they found '' no element to prove that [Ronaldinho] directly participated in obtaining the irregular documents.''

The brothers have repeatedly maintained their innocence with their lawyer calling their detention ''arbitrary, abusive and illegal.''

Ronaldinho last played professionally in 2015, including for Brazilian clubs Atletico Mineiro, Flamengo, but remains largely popular with global football fans.

He won the World Cup as part of the Brazilian team in 2002 and the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006. He was also named FIFA world player of the year in 2004 and 2005. [Reuters]


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