LIONEL MESSI’S older brother was warned last night he could he jailed for eight and a half years if convicted of illegal possession of a firearm.
The footballer’s wayward sibling was arrested in hospital on Friday after police said they had discovered a gun in a blood-covered boat Matias is claiming he abandoned following an accident.
He was operated on this weekend for injuries including a broken jaw and facial cuts.
Last night it emerged an investigating judge had decided the 35-year-old should be remanded in prison once he is well enough to leave hospital, although there is a possibility he may be allowed to continue his recovery at home.
It also emerged that under Argentinian law, Messi’s brother could be sentenced to up to eight and a half years in prison if convicted.
The minimum prison sentence he could face for an illegal firearms conviction would be three and a half years according to local reports.
The Barcelona star’s brother remained under police guard at the Sanatorio Parque – a private hospital in their native city of Rosario in Argentina – as investigators tried to get to the bottom of Thursday’s mystery incident.
Matias was arrested 24 hours after being helped ashore after being found drifting in a motorboat on the Parana River near Rosario just before dawn on Thursday morning.
He was formally arrested in hospital on suspicion of the illegal possession of a firearm following a police operation to track him down at a number of addresses in and an around Rosario.
Matias’ lawyer Ignacio Carbone has insisted he checked himself into hospital after injuring himself when he hit a sandbank – and has suggested the gun found on the boat could have been planted by cops.
State prosecutor Jose Luis Caterina has rubbished any suggestion of foul play, insisting the police procedure had been “transparent, clear and legitimate” and revealing the gun, a .380 handgun, was ready to be fired when it was found and had six bullets inside.
Investigators are said to be trying to establish who the owner of the boat because it is unregistered. It was described by officials as a “ghost vessel.”
The prison remand order, approved by judge Andres Donnola, is effective until December 23.
Matias, who underwent an operation yesterday/on Saturday, will have to inform court officials before he is given the all-clear to leave hospital so the judge can decide whether to let him return home or send him to jail pending an ongoing investigation.
Last year Leo’s wayward sibling was instructed to teach football as part of a probation order after being caught with a gun in his car.
Matias Messi was accused of illegal possession of a weapon after police discovered an unlicensed .22 pistol in his Audi A5 during a stop in October 2015.
Judge Gonzalo Lopez Quintana instructed him to impart four hours of soccer classes each week for a year at a football club in Rosario.
He was also ordered to stay off drugs and drink and pay a fine of around EUROS 470.
He finished his probation two months ago.
Local reports at the time of his arrest said Matias refused to identify himself to officers when he was stopped on October 3 2015 in Rosario.
Source: The Sun