SAO PAULO (AP) - A Brazilian goalkeeper convicted in the killing of a former girlfriend was ordered back to prison on Tuesday, the latest chapter of a seven-year saga that human rights groups say underscores violence toward women in Latin America’s largest nation.
Three out of four judges in a panel of Brazil’s Supreme Court denied an appeal to Boa Esporte goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes de Souza, who was released in February while appealing a 22-year sentence in the 2010 killing of Eliza Samudio. At the time of the slaying, the player was a star of local giants Flamengo and seen as a potential future member of Brazil’s squad for the 2014 World Cup on home soil.
Souza’s brief return to football at a small club in March was marked by widespread criticism among fans and players, with Boa Esporte losing five sponsors after the announcement. But others supported the player, chanting his name during training and games, and also taking pictures with him.
After Tuesday’s decision, Souza voluntarily turned himself in at a police station in the city of Varginha, where Boa Esporte is based, wearing a black shirt and a cap.
The 32-year-old Souza had been in jail since 2013 for ordering a friend to murder Samudio, an ex-girlfriend, and conceal her body. He has denied any wrongdoing and will have to wait in jail for another group of magistrates to rule.
The request to send Souza back to jail was made by Brazil’s chief prosecutor, Rodrigo Janot. He agreed with a request by Samudio’s family, who argued that the goalkeeper’s release before a final trial put them at risk.
Souza signed a contract with Boa Esporte on March 13 and debuted April 8, playing five times.
The club canceled Tuesday’s training session after the ruling and club directors refused to talk to the media.
A petition by Brazilian human rights group ‘Somos todos vitimas unidas’ (We are all united victims) to stop clubs from signing Souza has been signed by more than 37,000 people, while a local rights group in Varginha also campaigned against the player.
This story has been corrected to show that Souza was released in February, not March.
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