July 7, 2010 / 4:09 PM / 9 years ago

Brazil soccer star arrested over missing girlfriend

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The goalkeeper of Brazil’s most popular soccer team on Wednesday surrendered to police probing the disappearance and possible murder of his ex-girlfriend, in a case that transfixed the soccer-crazed country.

Flamengo's captain Bruno Souza holds up the Brazilian soccer championship trophy during the award ceremony in Rio de Janeiro in this December 7, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/Files

Flamengo keeper Bruno Souza and a friend were ordered arrested late on Tuesday while public prosecutors investigate the disappearance of 25-year-old model Eliza Samudio last month.

Police cars arrived at Bruno’s plush house near a Rio beach on Wednesday morning, but they did not find the goalkeeper or his friend Luiz Henrique Ferrera Romao, known as “Spaghetti”.

The two later went to a police station. Neither was charged.

Samudio, 25, had filed a police complaint against Bruno last October, saying that she had been kidnapped, beaten up and forced to take medicine that would induce an abortion. She later gave birth to a baby she said was Bruno’s.

Bruno, who like many Brazilian footballers is known by one name, has denied involvement in Samudio’s disappearance in comments to media. Bruno’s wife was arrested in the player’s home city of Belo Horizonte, about 440 km (270 miles) north of Rio on Wednesday morning.

Rio de Janeiro’s Flamengo is the league champion and by far Brazil’s most popular club, its distinctive black-and-red striped shirts worn by Brazilians from the beaches of Rio to remote villages.

A police source told Reuters that Bruno’s arrest was ordered after a 17-year-old cousin of the goalkeeper testified on Tuesday that he and Romao had kidnapped Samudio and driven her to Bruno’s house in Belo Horizonte.

Ties between Brazil’s favourite sport and crime have been in the spotlight after Adriano, another Flamengo player and a former striker for the national team, was investigated for alleged links to drug traffickers in Rio.

Adriano, who denied wrongdoing and has not been charged, has since moved to Italy’s Roma club.

Editing by David Storey

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