Former Brazilian Soccer Star On Trial For Killing Ex-Girlfriend

Rio de Janeiro — A former Brazilian soccer star is on trial after being charged with orchestrating the murder of his ex-girlfriend. The star is accused of luring the young model to a ranch where she was held hostage and killed, and her body dismembered.

The case against Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes — known simply as Bruno in Brazil — also includes allegations that he fed the remains of his ex-girlfriend, Eliza Samudio, to dogs, which is why her body was never found.

Fernandes led Flamengo to the Brazilian soccer championship victory in 2009. That year, Samudio alleged that she was pregnant with his child and that Fernandes and others kidnapped her and tried to force her to have an abortion.

Samudio refused to terminate the pregnancy, and gave birth to a son named Bruno. But she disappeared in June 2010 and has not been found.

Six months later, Fernandes was found guilty of Samudio’s initial accusation of kidnapping. He 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.

Fernandes is now being tried for a second time, this time on charges that he arranged Samudio’s death.

Investigators said the former soccer star was behind a plot that lured the 25-year-old from Rio de Janeiro to a ranch in Minas Gerais with the promise that Fernandes would give her an apartment and recognize the child as his. Once there, she was allegedly held against her will by Fernandes’ accomplices, killed, quartered, and fed to dogs who roamed around the ranch.

Two of Fernandes’ accomplices are also facing murder charges, and their attorneys walked out of the courtroom after arguing with the judge over access to videos of witness testimony.

One of the attorneys, Ercio Quaresmo, said, “We would like to leave clear to the jury that it is impossible to carry out a fair trial.”

Also on trial for Eliza Samudio’s kidnapping, murder, and dismemberment are Fernandes’ wife, Dayanne Rodrigues, his lover, Fernanda Castro, his former right-hand man Luiz Romao, and a former police officer. All have pleaded innocent.

The defense is arguing that there can be no murder charge because Samudio is alive. Rui Pimenta said he will provide proof that Samudio is living in Eastern Europe.

Eliza Samudio’s mother, Sonia Moura, said she believed justice would be done.

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