Brazilian footballer accused of ordering model's murder

A former Brazilian football star said to have orchestrated the murder of his ex-girlfriend went on trial in a case that includes claims that the young model was lured to a ranch where she was held hostage, killed and her body dismembered.

Brazilian footballer accused of ordering model's murder

A former Brazilian football star said to have orchestrated the murder of his ex-girlfriend went on trial in a case that includes claims that the young model was lured to a ranch where she was held hostage, killed and her body dismembered.

The case of the former Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes - known in Brazil just as Bruno - and Eliza Samudio has riveted the country, shocked the football world 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.

Fernandes, the former captain of one of Rio's premier clubs, led his team to Brazilian soccer championship victory in 2009.

That same year, Ms Samudio made the first allegations to police that she was pregnant with Fernandes' child, and that the star and others kidnapped her and tried to force her to terminate the pregnancy.

She refused and 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 Ms Samudio's initial accusations and is serving a prison sentence of four years and six months in that case.

After a court dispute, Ms Samudio's mother was named the child's guardian.

Fernandes is now being tried a second time, this time on charges that 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 which 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 evidence.

"We would like to leave clear to the jury that it is impossible to carry out a fair trial," Ercio Quaresmo, the lawyer for Santos, said in court, according to O Globo newspaper.

Besides Fernandes, those charged with Ms Samudio's kidnapping, murder and the hiding of her body include Dayanne Rodrigues, Fernandes' wife; Fernanda Castro, a lover; and Luiz Romao, the player's former right-hand man and a former police officer. All have denied the charges.

The lawyer for Fernandes said he remained confident that his client would walk out a free man.

"Bruno is tired of being in prison," Rui Pimenta told O Globo outside court in the town of Contagem. "He is ready to walk out and go eat some rare barbecue."

The defence argues there can be no murder charges because Ms Samudio is alive and Mr Pimenta says he will produce proof that she is living in eastern Europe.

Ms Samudio's mother, Sonia Moura, told news website G1 that she trusted justice would be done and dared Fernandes 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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