15th April 2024
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Trial of Dani Alves for alleged rape starts in Barcelona

After spending over 12 months in a Spanish jail, Brazilian and former Barça football star Dani Alves will go on trial this week for allegedly raping a young woman at a nightclub in Barcelona.

Alves (main image) is accused of raping the woman on the night of 30 December 2022. He denies any wrongdoing. The trial is scheduled for Monday through Wednesday at a courthouse in Barcelona.

State prosecutors are seeking a nine-year prison sentence for Alves if convicted, while the legal representatives of the accuser are advocating for a 12-year sentence.

In accordance with Spain’s 2022 sexual consent law, the offence of sexual assault encompasses a broad spectrum of crimes,  from online abuse and groping to rape, each with different possible punishments. A case of rape can carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Alves, now 40, was arrested on 20 January 2023 after answering a police summons during a visit to Spain. A court ordered him to be jailed after analysing the initial police investigation and hearing testimony from the alleged victim, witnesses and the player himself.

Before he was indicted by an investigative judge in August, Alves’ lawyers unsuccessfully tried to discredit testimony by his accuser and other witnesses by presenting security camera footage at the nightclub. The court has said that any alleged flirting should not ‘in any way justify an eventual sexual assault’.

Alves’ requests for bail were denied because the court considered him a flight risk, even though he offered to hand over his passport and wear a tracking device. Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.

Alves has modified his defence several times. At first, he denied having ever seen the woman when he went dancing at the Sutton nightclub in one of Barcelona’s upscale neighbourhoods.

Upon his arrest, he denied any sexual contact with her, only to admit three months later to a sexual encounter that he said was consented to by the woman. 

Alves told Barcelona-based daily La Vanguardia in June that he had lied at first about knowing his accuser because he was afraid his wife would leave him if he admitted being with another woman.

‘I have a really clear conscience regarding what happened that night in the bathroom of the VIP area of the Sutton nightclub,’ he told the newspaper. ‘What happened and what didn’t happen. And what didn’t happen is that I forced this woman to do anything that we did.’

And after his indictment, he reportedly has alleged that he was drunk as an extenuating circumstance.

Alves has also changed lawyers three times. At the trial he will be represented by Inés Guardiola, a defence specialist, who he hired in October.

The alleged victim is represented by Ester García, a specialist in prosecuting sex crimes.

According to the prosecution, Alves knew the layout of the nightclub well and was there on the night of the alleged rape with a friend. He was on holiday in Barcelona at the time after playing for Brazil at the World Cup in Qatar.

After offering champagne to the young woman and her friend, Alves allegedly invited the woman to enter a small enclosure at the nightclub, which she says she did not know was a lavatory.

Once inside the footballer showed a ‘violent attitude’ towards the woman, whom he forced to have intercourse despite her resistance, prosecutors say according to the indictment.

‘The victim asked him several times … to let her go, saying she wanted to leave but the defendant prevented her from doing so,’ according to the indictment, which describes a ‘situation of anguish and terror’ for the young woman.

The woman, who received medical treatment after leaving the nightclub, is being treated for ‘post-traumatic stress of overall high intensity’, according to prosecutors.

The trial will be before a three-judge panel presided over by magistrate Isabel Delgado. 28 witnesses will give testimony between Monday and Tuesday before the court hears experts on Wednesday. The court will decide on Monday when Alves and his accuser testify.

Since the court rejected a request from the prosecution for the trial to be held behind closed doors, the media will be able to follow the proceedings, except for when Alves’ accuser takes the stand. Her identity will not be revealed, and she will not have to be ‘visually confronted with the accused’. That decision came after a video circulated on social media last month that allegedly identified the woman.

Three days after his arrest, Alves was transferred by officials for safety reasons to the Brians 2 prison about 45 minutes northwest of Barcelona. He has been there since.

Alves has been ordered to set aside 150,000 euros to pay his alleged victim if he is found guilty and ordered to pay damages.

Alves’ arrest shattered his image of a charismatic winner with a lengthy and successful career.

He won major titles with several elite clubs, including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. He also helped Brazil win two Copa America trophies and an Olympic gold medal at age 38. He played at his third World Cup, the only major title he’s not won, in 2022.

The right back was a key part of Barcelona’s golden years playing between 2008-16 as a teammate of Lionel Messi. He won the Champions League three times during that stretch with the Catalan club, which he briefly rejoined in 2022.

Alves had his contract with Mexican club Pumas terminated immediately after his arrest.

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