25th February 2024
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Dani Alves insists ‘sex was consensual’ as he testifies in final day of trial for alleged rape

The trial of ex-Barça and Brazil international Dani Alves for alleged rape ended on Wednesday, with the footballer telling the court his version of events involving a young woman at a Barcelona nightclub.

On the third and final day of the trial, the 40-year-old Brazilian took the stand last, following the testimony from several experts.

Alves said the relations he had with the woman who has accused him were consensual at all times. 

‘I’m not violent,’ he told the court, saying that at no point did the woman ask him ‘to stop or to leave’ the VIP bathroom of the Sutton nightclub in Barcelona, where the events in question took place. 

Alves said that both he and the woman were ‘enjoying themselves’ and that he did not have to ‘insist’ much for the woman to enter the bathroom and have sex. He also told the court that he drank a lot that day. 

Alves gave testimony for around 20 minutes, responding to questions from his lawyer only, and appearing upset and close to tears. He said he remembered everything that happened that night, despite saying that he drank a lot. 

Alves and his friend were in the VIP area of the club when the woman and her two companions arrived. He said that they danced and talked ‘with no problems’. 

‘We were all enjoying ourselves,’ he said, saying that he did not notice that they were ‘uncomfortable’, as the two women who were with his accuser had said in court. 

Alves said that he believes the women did know that he was a famous ex-Barça football player, something the three women had denied. 

At some point, Alves began to dance more with the complainant, getting closer to her, but always ‘with respect’, he said. 

They started ‘grinding’, the woman touched his genitalia, and he noticed a certain ‘sexual attraction’, Alves went on. It was then that Alves told her to go to the bathroom. ‘I didn’t have to insist,’ he said. 

The trial had opened on Monday with Alves’s accuser testifying for over an hour from behind a screen to avoid her being identified. State prosecutors asked for the court to take extra measures to protect her identity after a video circulated on social media last month that allegedly identified the woman.

One of the world’s most decorated footballers who played for Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain during his career, Alves is accused of raping the woman in the bathroom of the VIP section of the Sutton nightclub in the early hours of 31 December 2022.

In testimony previously given to state prosecutors last year, the woman said she met Alves in a VIP area of the nightclub after midnight where she had gone with a friend and a cousin. She said she accompanied Alves into a private bathroom where he allegedly slapped her, used insulting language, and raped her.

Alves was arrested three weeks later and has been detained ever since. He denies all the charges.

Some 20 witnesses had taken the stand on Tuesday, with the Brazilian friend who was with him on the night in question saying Alves had drunk a lot of alcohol before entering the nightclub.

Various police officers told the court about the victim’s state of agitation and ‘shock’ when they arrived at the nightclub, as well as her anxiety that ‘nobody would believe her’ if she filed a complaint. One officer said the woman told him: ‘I don’t want money, I want justice.’

On Monday, a friend and a cousin, who were with the victim at the nightclub, had also testified about her anguished state after fleeing the bathroom.

Alves was present in court on both days, appearing in court handcuffed to a police officer and sitting silently in the front row.

Prosecutors say Alves and his friend bought champagne for the three young women, then he asked the victim to go with him to another area where there was a bathroom which she was unaware of.

Once inside, he became violent and forced her to have sex, despite the fact she ‘repeatedly asked him to let her go’, causing her ‘anguish and terror’, according to prosecutors.

The friend who was with her broke down in tears on Tuesday as she told the court how the victim was ‘crying uncontrollably’ after leaving the bathroom, saying Alves had ‘really hurt’ her.

The footballer, who is accused of ‘sexual assault with penetration’, has insisted what happened between them was consensual.

Prosecutors are calling for a nine-year jail sentence followed by 10 years of probation, and also want him to pay 150,000 euros in compensation.

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’s 31-year-old wife Joana Sanz told the court on Tuesday that he appeared very drunk when he got back to their Barcelona home that night and she had not wanted to talk to him because of ‘the state he was in’.

Sanz explained that Alves arrived home at 4am ‘reeking of alcohol’ and collided with a wardrobe and a table before he ‘collapsed’ on the bed.

The player’s friends who were with him for almost the whole day also explained that they drank a lot, thus trying to argue the defence of the former athlete that he would not have raped the girl in a significant state of intoxication.

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.

Priort to the trial, Alves had 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.’

The three-day trial concludes Wednesday. A verdict normally takes weeks to be delivered.

Alves 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.

ALSO READ: Trial of Dani Alves for alleged rape starts in Barcelona.

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