Brazilian soccer star Dani Alves is currently on trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a young woman at a Barcelona nightclub. The incident is said to have taken place on December 31, 2022. Alves, who is a former Barcelona player, denies any wrongdoing and has been present in court with his mother. The trial is expected to run through Wednesday at a Barcelona courthouse.
If convicted, Alves could face a nine-year prison sentence, as sought by state prosecutors, or 12 years, as requested by the lawyers representing his accuser. Spain’s 2022 sexual consent law encompasses a wide range of crimes, each with different possible punishments, from online abuse and groping to rape, which can carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Alves was arrested on January 20, 2023, while visiting Spain and has been in jail since then. His requests for bail were denied due to the court considering him a flight risk, despite offering to hand over his passport and wear a tracking device. Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.
The woman who accused Alves of sexual assault testified that she met him at a nightclub and accompanied him into a VIP area and a private bathroom, where he allegedly slapped her, used insulting language, and raped her. Alves’ lawyers have tried to discredit the testimony by presenting security camera footage at the nightclub, but the court has stated that any alleged flirting should not justify sexual assault.
Alves has changed his defense several times, initially denying having seen the woman, then denying any sexual contact with her, and later admitting to a sexual encounter that he said was consented to by the woman. He has changed attorneys three times and will now be represented by a defense specialist at the trial.
The trial will be held before a three-judge panel, with 28 witnesses giving testimony between Monday and Tuesday before the court hears experts on Wednesday. The court has ordered that the accuser’s testimony will be behind closed doors to protect her identity. 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 has tarnished his image as a charismatic winner with a successful career, having won major titles with elite clubs, including Barcelona, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain. He also helped Brazil win two Copa America trophies and an Olympic gold medal. He played at his third World Cup in 2022 and was a key part of Barcelona’s golden years playing between 2008-16 as a teammate of Lionel Messi. He briefly rejoined Barcelona in 2022 but had his contract with Mexican club Pumas terminated immediately after his arrest.
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