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  • Jul 30, 2014
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SOCCER

Brazilian soccer star on trial for 'killing lover and feeding her to dogs'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 10:53am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2012, 11:41am

A former Brazilian soccer star charged with orchestrating the murder of his ex-girlfriend went on trial on Monday in a case that includes allegations the young model was lured to a ranch where she was held hostage, killed and her body dismembered.

The case of former Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes, known in Brazil just as Bruno, and Eliza Samudio has riveted Brazil, shocked the world of soccer and its twists and turns have reached the level of a macabre soap opera, including allegations that the model has never been found because her remains were fed to dogs.

The former captain of one of Rio’s premier clubs led his team to Brazilian soccer championship victory in 2009. That same year, Samudio made the first allegations to police that she was pregnant with Fernandes’ child, and that the soccer great and others had kidnapped her and tried to force her to terminate the pregnancy.

She refused. The child was born healthy, and named Bruno. But the model disappeared in June 2010 and has not been found.

In December 2010, Fernandes was found guilty of Samudio’s initial accusations and is serving a prison sentence of four years and six months in that case. After a court dispute, Samudio’s mother was named the child’s guardian.

The former soccer great is now being tried a second time, this time on charges he ordered his ex-girlfriend’s death.

Investigators said the player was behind a scheme that lured the 25-year-old woman from Rio de Janeiro to a ranch in the neighbouring state of Minas Gerais with the promise that Fernandes would recognise the child as his and give her an apartment. There she was allegedly held against her will by Fernandes’ accomplices, killed and quartered, and her remains fed to dogs who roamed the property.

The first day of the murder trial in Minas Gerais was marked by high drama, with lawyers for two of Fernandes’ alleged accomplices, who are also facing murder charges, walking out after arguing with the judge over access to videos of witness testimony.

Besides Fernandes, those charged with Samudio’s kidnapping, murder and the hiding of her body include Dayanne Rodrigues, Fernandes’ wife; Fernanda Castro, a lover; Luiz Romao, the soccer player’s former right-hand man, and a former police officer. All those charged with the death have pleaded innocent, including Fernandes.

The former soccer player’s lawyer said he remained confident that his client would walk out a free man.

“Bruno is tired of being in prison,” Rui Pimenta told the media. “He is ready to walk out and go and eat some rare barbecue.”

The defence’s argument is that there can be no murder charges because Samudio is, in fact, alive. Pimenta says he will produce proof that Samudio is living in Eastern Europe.

Samudio’s mother, Sonia Moura, said she trusted justice would be done and dared the soccer player to look her in the eyes in court.

“I believe in justice, and in the condemnation of all the accused,” she said. “I want my daughter’s mortal remains.”

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