Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil's Bruno Fernandes tried for ex-lover's murder

Eliza Samudio in August 2009
Image caption Ms Samudio went missing in June 2010

Brazilian football star Bruno Fernandes has gone on trial, accused of ordering the killing of a former lover whose body has never been found.

Fernandes and two other defendants are charged with the murder of Eliza Samudio, who disappeared in June 2010. Police say she was murdered and her body was fed to dogs.

The three all deny any wrongdoing.

At the time, Fernandes was the goalkeeper for Brazil's most popular club, Flamengo.

Ms Samudio had said that the married footballer was the father of her baby.

The trial in the town of Contagem, in the state of Minas Gerais, began on Monday morning and is expected to last two weeks.

It is attracting massive media interest in Brazil where it has been compared to the OJ Simpson trial in the US.

As well as Fernandes, two others are charged with murder: Luiz Henrique Ferreira Romao, known as Macarrao, and former policeman Marcos Aparecido dos Santos, known as Bola.

Two other defendants, Fernandes's ex-wife Dayanne Rodrigues and an ex-lover, Fernanda Gomes de Castro, face charges of abduction and false imprisonment.

Other accused people are set to face trial separately.

'Held captive'

The prosecution case is that Eliza Samudio was lured to a hotel in Rio de Janeiro on the pretext of obtaining a DNA test to prove the footballer was the father of her child.

She and her baby son were then abducted and taken to the footballer's home in Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais.

Image caption Bruno Fernandes was Flamengo captain

There, it is alleged, she was held captive. According to police reports, she was then strangled, her body cut up and parts were fed to dogs.

The baby was found a fortnight later in the home of friends of Dayanne Rodrigues.

Prosecutors say Fernandes did not want to accept the child as his and have to pay maintenance.

All the defendants have denied the accusations.

Fernandes was jailed for four-and-a-half years in December 2010 after being found guilty in a separate trial of abducting and assaulting Ms Samudio the previous year.

Fernandes had been Flamengo's goalkeeper since 2006 and was hugely popular with fans.

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