Dani Alves set to leave prison pending appeal

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Brazilian soccer player Dani Alves sits in the dock during his trial for alleged sexual assault at Barcelona's Court in Barcelona, Spain, 05 February 2024.Image source, Reuters

International football star Dani Alves can be conditionally released from jail after he paid bail of €1m (£853,000).

Alves was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison last month, after a court found him guilty of raping a woman in a Barcelona nightclub in 2022.

On Monday, the court in Spain gave the former Barcelona and Brazil footballer permission to leave jail pending his appeal, after he made the stated bail.

The 40-year-old has been held in pre-trial detention since January 2023.

“We hereby inform you that the deposit of Daniel Alves’ bail has been registered in the accounts of the 21st section of the Barcelona Court,” said a statement.

However, a lawyer for the rape victim has called the decision to allow him to leave jail “a scandal”.

Speaking last week, Ester Garcia said: “To me, it’s a scandal that they let a person who they know can get a million euros in no time walk free.”

Ms Garcia told RAC1 radio she was “outraged and dissatisfied” with the ruling, adding it was “a justice [system] for the rich” and that she would lodge an appeal.

The player has served about a quarter of his sentence for rape to this point – a fact highlighted by Alves’ lawyer when his conditional release was requested earlier this month.

The conditions for his release include handing over both his Brazilian and Spanish passports so he is unable to leave Spain. He must also appear before the court on a weekly basis.

The court additionally imposed a restraining order, preventing him from approaching the victim.

The decision was not unanimous due to a dissenting vote from one of the judges.

During the trial in February, prosecutors said Alves and his friend had bought champagne for three young women before Alves lured one of them to a bathroom in the VIP area of the club.

They argued that it was at this point he turned violent, forcing the woman to have sex despite her repeated requests to leave.

Alves had maintained she could have left “if she wanted to”.

However, the court found that she did not consent.

Spanish law was changed recently to enshrine the importance of consent under the so-called “Only Yes is Yes” principle.

In a statement, the court said there was evidence other than the victim’s testimony that proved that she had been raped.

It said Alves had “abruptly grabbed the complainant” and thrown her to the ground. He had then raped her while preventing her from moving as “the complainant said no and wanted to leave”, it added.

The woman said the rape had caused her “anguish and terror”, and one of her friends who was with her on the night described how the 23-year-old had cried “uncontrollably” after leaving the bathroom.

Alves changed his testimony on a number of occasions.

He first denied knowing his accuser, only to claim later that he had met her in the toilet but that nothing had happened between them.

He then changed his version of events again, saying that they had had consensual sex. “We were both enjoying ourselves,” he alleged.

Alves played more than 400 times for Barcelona, winning six league titles and three Champions Leagues across two spells with the club. He was also part of Brazil’s 2022 World Cup squad.

He has won trophies playing for Sevilla, Juventus and PSG, and is among Brazil’s most capped internationals, with 126 appearances.

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