Dani Alves granted €1m bail after sexual assault conviction

Former Brazil footballer Dani Alves has been granted release on bail for €1 million ($1.1m) upon appeal, a court in Barcelona, Spain, announced Wednesday.

Alves, 40, was convicted of sexual assault last month and sentenced to 4½ years in prison, of which he had already served over a year.

For Alves to be released, he is required to hand over his Brazilian and Spanish passports, in addition to posting bail, and is prohibited from leaving the country. He also cannot come within 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) of the victim or try to communicate with her, and he must make weekly check-ins at the courthouse.

He still has a residence near the city.

Late Tuesday, Spanish news agency EFE reported that the bail had not yet been posted, meaning Alves will spend at least one more night in prison.

All parties involved — the defence, the victim’s legal team and the prosecution — have three days to appeal Wednesday’s ruling.

Ester García, the victim’s lawyer, expressed her disappointment with the ruling to Spanish outlet RAC1 after leaving the court.

“I am really dissatisfied with this decision,” she said. “We will file an appeal because we believe it is not in accordance with the law.

“Justice is being done for the rich. It is scandalous that they free someone because they can get €1 million in no time.”

On Tuesday, Alves’ lawyer Inés Guardiola argued that there was no risk of him fleeing the country or destroying evidence, while the former Barcelona player appeared via video link and insisted he was not a flight risk and was prepared to hand in his passports.

The prosecution, meanwhile, demanded a sentence of nine years, complaining that February’s 4½-year conviction was not sufficient punishment for the crime committed.

Alves was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in a Barcelona nightclub in 2022 following a 13-month investigation — during which time Alves remained in preventative pretrial prison — and a three-day trial last month.

Over the course of the trial, evidence was heard from the victim’s friend and cousin, Alves’ friend whom he was with the night of the crime, police officers who attended to the woman and a forensic psychologist who examined her.

Police said the victim was greatly shaken and told them she had been sexually assaulted by Alves, while the psychologist testified that she was suffering from post-traumatic symptoms, a conclusion that was disputed by an outside expert called by the defence.

Meanwhile, Alves always maintained his innocence, but changed his story five times, eventually saying he did have sex with the victim but that he lied to hide his infidelity to his wife. He later added that he was drunk.

The Alves case was the first high-profile sex crime since Spain overhauled its legislation in 2022 to make consent central to defining a sex crime in response to a swell of protests following a gang-rape case during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.

The legislation, commonly known as the “only yes means yes” law, defines consent as an explicit expression of a person’s will, making it clear that silence or passivity do not equal consent.

The law, however, initially led to reduced sentences for hundreds of sex offenders because it set up lower minimum sentences, like the one applied to Alves, before the law was reformed.

Throughout a career that lasted over 20 years, Alves won major titles with clubs including Barça, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. He also won Copa América with Brazil twice and an Olympic gold medal at the age of 38.

He played at his third World Cup, the only major title he has not won, in 2022.

He played for Barça from 2008 to 2016 and briefly rejoined the club for a second spell in 2022 before moving to Mexico with Pumas.

Alves’ contract with the Mexican club was terminated immediately following his arrest.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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