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Pele's son cleared of manslaughter

July 16, 2005 13:14 IST
Pele's son Edinho was found not guilty of manslaughter on Friday in a retrial over his alleged involvement in a car crash in Santos 13 years ago.

A spokesman for the court in Santos, a port city around 60 kilometres from Sao Paulo, said the verdict was reached in the early hours of Friday morning after a hearing which began on Thursday.

But former goalkeeper Edinho, full name Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, went straight back to a high-security prison where he is awaiting a separate trial on drugs charges.

Edinho, who played for his father's old club Santos, had been sentenced to a six-year prison term, under a semi-open regime, after being found guilty in the first trial in October 1999.

On that occasion, the jury accepted the prosecution's claim that Edinho took part in a high-speed race through the streets of Santos.

During the alleged race in 1992, the other car involved hit and killed an elderly motorcyclist.

Edinho immediately appealed which, under Brazilian law, meant that he did not have to go to prison. The retrial was ordered last year.

EDINHO ARREST

Pele's son has always denied being involved in a high-speed race and said he was simply a witness who tried to help the victim.

Edinho was arrested in his Santos apartment on June 6 as part of a swoop on a suspected drug trafficking ring.

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He has denied involvement with drug traffickers although he has admitted a dependency on marijuana.

The state chief of the Anti-Drugs Police, Ivaney Caires de Souza, says there is evidence Edinho had links to drug kingpin Ronaldo Duarte Barsotti, who is known as Naldinho and was arrested in the same sweep as Edinho and about 50 other people.

Police say they have recordings of phone calls in which Edinho spoke to Naldinho about how to invest money.

Pele, widely considered the finest footballer of all time and still a revered figure in Brazil, has said he will stand by his son.

The former Brazil number 10 wept publicly when he visited Edinho in jail after his arrest.

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