A court in Barcelona denied an appeal from Brazilian footballer Dani Alves on Tuesday to be freed on bail while the investigation of a sexual assault accusation against him continues.
The court ruled that Alves was a flight risk and must remain in prison during the investigation. A trial has not yet been set.
The former Barça player was provisionally detained in January after being accused of sexually assaulting a young woman at Barcelona’s Sutton nightclub on 30 December. He has denied wrongdoing and said sex with the accuser was consensual.
Alves was transferred from Brians 1 prison to Brians 2, located in the town of Sant Esteve Sesrovires, around 40 kilometres northwest of Barcelona, in late January.
The Catalan justice department’s prison authority said that the decision was to better guarantee inmate safety, but that it was also standard practice. Wards in Brians 2 house 80 inmates on average, while those in Brians 1 have around 200 people each.
A judge had ordered him to be jailed without bail after analysing the initial probe by authorities and hearing testimony from Alves, the alleged victim and others witnesses. ALSO READ: Judge investigating Dani Alves alleged sexual assault case hears from witnesses.
Alves’ lawyers filed the appeal saying the Brazilian agreed to turn in his passport and wear a tracking device if he was freed. Alves would also report to the court and to authorities as often as required, including daily, and would not go within 500 metres of the accuser or her home or workplace.
But the court ruled that those measures would not be enough to keep the player from potentially trying to escape considering he faces several years in prison if found guilty. It also said there was considerable evidence that a crime might have been committed, and that Alves’ wealth could make it easier for him to try to flee regardless of the amount of bail.
‘Nothing would stop Mr. Alves from leaving Spain by air, sea or even land without documentation and reaching his country of origin, where he could stay knowing that he would not be delivered to Spain despite international arrest warrants or extradition orders,’ the court said.
Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries. Another former Brazil player, Robinho, had a nine-year sentence for the rape of a young woman in Italy upheld by a top Italian court last year, but he remains free in Brazil.
The 39-year-old Alves can appeal again while the court decides whether to set up a trial.
Under Spain’s new sexual consent law passed last year, sexual assault takes in a wide array of crimes from online abuse and groping to rape, each with different possible punishments. A case of rape can receive a maximum sentence of 15 years.
The former FC Barcelona player, who has also played for Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, played in his third World Cup last year in Qatar.