Ex-Brazil and Barca star Dani Alves denies rape as trial wraps up

AFP , Wednesday 7 Feb 2024

Former Brazil international Dani Alves denied raping a young woman at a Barcelona nightclub as he took the stand Wednesday on the last day of his trial in Spain.

Dani Alves
Brazilian footballer Dani Alves looks on at the start of his trial at the High Court of Justice of Catalonia in Barcelona, on February 5, 2024. AFP


"If she wanted to leave, she could have left, she was not obligated to be there," the 40-year-old told the court in Barcelona, adding that the woman "at no time" asked to leave.

Alves also denied hitting the women and grabbing her hair, telling the court during his roughly 20 minutes on the stand: "I am not a violent man."

The trial opened on Monday with the victim testifying for over an hour from behind a screen to avoid her being identified.

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

He was arrested three weeks later and has been detained since, accused of "sexual assault with penetration".

Prosecutors are calling for a nine-year prison sentence followed by 10 years of probation, and also want him to pay 150,000 euros ($162,000) in compensation. A verdict is expected in several weeks.

Signs of trauma

A psychologist who treated the woman after the alleged rape told the court earlier on Wednesday that she showed signs of having post-traumatic stress disorder.

But experts called by the footballer's defence team said her anxiety could have been caused by the intense media attention surrounding the case.

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

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.

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

Alves was present in court throughout the trial, handcuffed to a police officer and sitting silently in the front row.

'Crying uncontrollably'

Prosecutors say Alves and his friend bought champagne for three young women, then he asked one of them to accompany him to another area where there was a bathroom that 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 three-time Champions League winner initially denied knowing the woman in a TV interview but later acknowledged having sex with her, saying it was consensual. He told La Vanguardia newspaper in June that he had lied because he was afraid his wife would leave him.

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".

He "smelled of alcohol" and on entering the bedroom "he bumped into several pieces of furniture and collapsed on the bed", she told the court.

The peak of Alves's career was with Barcelona from 2008 to 2016 when he won 23 trophies. At the time of his arrest, he was contracted to Pumas UNAM, but the Mexican club sacked him soon after he was detained.

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