RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Police Saturday freed three men a day after they were apprehended by federal authorities for alleged involvement in the December theft of the Jules Rimet World Cup Soccer trophy.
The three men, and a fourth previously detained by federal authorities for questioning, were freed by state police inspector Osmar Penanha, who said he had insufficient evidence to hold them.
Penanha was quoted by the 'O globo' television network as saying a former convict who tipped police on the case may have been the mastermind of the Dec. 20 theft of the cup from Brazilian Soccer Federation headquarters.
Federal police arrested Sergio Pereira Alves, Francisco Rocha Vieira and Jose Vieira da Silva Friday after a former prison inmate, Antonio Setta, told them he had been asked by Alves to help plan the cup's theft.
Setta said Friday he refused Alves' invitation 'because I'm a patriot'.
The three arrested men, and a fourth, Antonio Pugliese, accused of buying the stolen cup and melting it down for its gold content, were handed over to state authorities Friday night, but Penanha freed them Saturday.
Brazil won permanent possession of the cup when it won its third World Cup victory in 1970. The trophy was made in 1929.