Footballer Dani Alves begins Barcelona trial for rape

BARCELONA: Brazilian footballer Dani Alves, a former star at Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, goes on trial on Monday (Feb 5) in Barcelona accused of raping a woman in a local nightclub.

Prosecutors are asking for a nine-year prison sentence, followed by 10 years of conditional liberty. They are also asking that he pay €150,000 (US$162,000) in compensation to the woman.

The trial opens at 9am GMT and is due to wrap up on Wednesday.

The 40-year-old former defender has been in jail since his arrest in January 2023 after a woman accused him of raping her in a bathroom of the VIP area of the upscale Sutton nightclub in Barcelona in the early hours of Dec 31, 2022.

Alves has said they had consensual sex after initially denying knowing the woman during a television interview.

According to the prosecution, Alves – who was on holiday in Barcelona at the time after playing for Brazil at the World Cup in Qatar – offered champagne to the young woman and her friend.

Alves then 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” and forced her 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, according to prosecutors.

Alves’ legal team lost a battle to keep the trial behind closed doors, though media and the public will not be present when the accuser takes the stand. Her identity has never been revealed.

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

Spanish courts have repeatedly rejected requests that Alves be released pending his trial, citing a flight risk to Brazil, which generally does not extradite its citizens.

In Spain, a plea deal remains possible right until the start of the trial, meaning Alves could still admit guilt in exchange for a softer penalty.

The accuser’s lawyer in November denied she had reached such an agreement, but admitted that “talks” had been held.

Alves won 42 trophies during a highly successful career, including three Champions Leagues with Barcelona and two Copa Americas with Brazil.

The height of his career came when playing for Barcelona between 2008 and 2016, where he won 23 trophies.

Alves, who also played for Juventus in Italy and for Sevilla, was at the time of his arrest with Mexican club Pumas UNAM, who sacked him soon afterwards.

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