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Convicted rapist Dani Alves leaves Spanish jail

SAN ESTEBAN SASROVIRAS — Convicted rapist and former Brazil international Dani Alves left a prison near Barcelona on Monday after posting the €1 million bail set by a court to ensure his release pending appeal.

The 40-year-old has been in jail since his arrest in January 2023 on suspicion of raping a young woman in the VIP bathroom of a Barcelona nightclub in the early hours of Dec 31, 2022.

Wearing jeans, a white polo-neck and black jacket, his face expressionless, Alves walked out of the Brians 2 prison in San Esteban Sasroviras near Barcelona with his lawyer, AFP correspondents at the scene said.

He got into a white car without saying a word to the hordes of reporters waiting nearby, just hours after depositing the sum determined by the court five days earlier.

The former Barcelona player, one of the world’s most decorated footballers, was convicted last month and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail, with his lawyers swiftly moving to file an appeal.

But in a surprise move, the court agreed last Wednesday to conditionally release him conditionally in exchange for posting a €1 million bail, handing over his Spanish and Brazilian passports, staying in Spain, and presenting himself to court every week.

Alves had tried to make bail several times since his arrest but his requests were turned down on the basis he was a flight risk since Brazil does not extradite citizens sentenced in other countries.

Alves’ lawyers are seeking his acquittal, and the appeal process could take months to complete.

Prosecutors, however, want his prison sentence doubled to nine years.

They and the victim’s lawyer Ester Garcia have appealed the decision to grant Alves bail.

“This sends the message that this is justice for the rich, and even if there is a conviction, if you pay bail there are no criminal consequences,” she told reporters last week.

“It’s a very dangerous message for society,” she added, saying her client was “totally outraged, very despondent and very frustrated”.

Lula slams bail deal

The court’s decision to free Alves was also robustly criticised by Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“We cannot stay silent in the face of this injustice,” he said on Thursday, stressing that money “cannot undo the crime that a man commits by raping a woman”.

“When sex is something between two people, it has to be agreed to by both of them” and if not, that constitutes “a crime”, he said.

During the trial, the victim, who testified behind a screen to protect her identity, said Alves had violently forced her to have sex despite begging him to let her go, causing her “anguish and terror”, according to prosecutors present for her declaration.

Alves’ lawyers had argued the victim had been “glued” to the player while dancing at the nightclub, saying there was “sexual tension” between them.

But in its 61-page decision, the court said that did not mean “that she consented to anything that might have subsequently happened”.

Spain’s leftist government passed a new law in 2022 that strengthens the country’s penal code against rape by requiring explicit consent for sex acts, a move long demanded by assault survivors and women’s rights groups.

Alves is widely considered one of the greatest defenders of all time, having won 42 trophies.

The peak of his career was with Barcelona between 2008 and 2016, alongside Lionel Messi, when he won 23 trophies.

At the time of his arrest, he was contracted to Mexican club Pumas UNAM. He was sacked soon after being detained. — AFP