June 28, 2005

Pele’s son moved to high-security prison

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) - The son of soccer legendPele, former goalkeeper Edson Cholbi Nascimento, wastransferred to a high-security prison in Brazil's Sao Paulostate on Tuesday for his own safety to await trial on drugcharges.

Nascimento, known as Edinho, had spent three weeks indetention at the anti-drug police headquarters after beingarrested at his apartment in the port city of Santos on June 6.

Police had feared that gangsters might kill Edinho, whofaces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, as part of avendetta if he was moved to a standard prison. The penitentiaryhe was taken to was not identified for security reasons, policeand his lawyer said.

Brazil's drug gangs are well organized within the country'sprisons as well as outside and bloodshed between rival groupsis frequent.

Edinho, who played as a goalkeeper for his father's oldclub Santos until he retired in 1999, has denied involvementwith drug traffickers although he has admitted a dependency onmarijuana.

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

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

Pele's family lawyer, Sidney Goncalves, said he hopedEdinho would be released on bail since a petition had beenfiled with a judge.

"We don't know when. It could be two or three weeks," hesaid.

Pele, considered the greatest soccer player of all time andstill a revered figure in Brazil, has said he will stand by hisson. Pele wept publicly when he visited him in jail at thepolice station.