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Brazilian judge throws out Barcelona's Neymar tax charges

AFP , Friday 5 Feb 2016
Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Athletic Club Bilbao at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on January 17, 2016 (Photo: AFP)
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A Brazilian judge has thrown out tax fraud charges against Brazil and Barcelona star striker Neymar, his father and two senior FC Barcelona figures.

The magistrate, Mateus Castelo Branco Firmino da Silva, said the charges brought Tuesday "should be rejected."

The ruling late Thursday in Santos gave some respite to the Brazilian superstar.

Prosecutors accused him of tax evasion and falsifying documents between 2006, when he was just a promising youngster at Brazilian football club Santos, and 2013, when he signed for Barcelona.

FC Barcelona faces a separate case in Spain, where Brazilian investment fund DIS has made allegations of fraud and corruption relating to Neymar's signing in 2013. The striker testified this week in Madrid in that case.

Da Silva said in his ruling that the case against Neymar, his father and two senior FC Barcelona management figures -- current president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his predecessor Sandro Rosell -- could not go ahead while the tax authorities had not yet completed their probe.

"You cannot open criminal proceedings before the tax authorities complete their accounting," he said.

Sao Paulo prosecutors said they would appeal and stressed that the ruling "does not absolve the accused."

"We have only to wait until the completion of the work by the tax authorities and then we will present an identical set of charges," the prosecutor's office said.

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