Alves rape trial starts in Barcelona

February 5 – The long-anticipated trial of former Brazilian star Dani Alves got under way today in Barcelona as he faced accusations of raping a woman in a local nightclub.

Prosecutors are demanding a nine-year prison sentence for the 40-year-old former Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain defender who was driven to court in a police van from a prison where he has been held on remand since his arrest in January 2023.

Dozens of journalists were on hand outside the court to cover the start of the trial, which is expected to finish on Wednesday with a verdict likely to come several weeks later.

Alves was arrested after a young woman accused him of raping her in a bathroom of the VIP area of an upmarket nightclub in Barcelona in the early hours of December 31, 2022.

The three-time Champions League winner insists they had consensual sex after initially denying knowing the woman during a television interview.

Alves was on holiday in Barcelona at the time after playing for Brazil at the World Cup in Qatar.

“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 being with another woman.

“I have a really clear conscience regarding what happened that night,” 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.”

Alves is widely considered as one of the greatest full-backs of all time. He won 42 trophies during a stellar career, including three Champions League titles with Barcelona and two Copa Americas with Brazil. At the time of his arrest he was playing for  Mexican club Pumas UNAM, who terminated his contract soon afterwards.

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