Spanish Court Grants Bail to Soccer Star Dani Alves While Appealing Rape Conviction 

BARCELONA, Spain — A Spanish court decided Wednesday that Brazilian soccer star Dani Alves could leave prison if he pays a bail of one million euros ($1.1 million) and hands over his passports while awaiting the appeal of his conviction for raping a woman in Barcelona.

Alves was found guilty of having raped the woman in a nightclub in 2022 and sentenced to four years and six months in prison. He denied wrongdoing during the three-day trial.

He has been behind bars since being arrested in January 2023. His prior requests to be released on bail were denied because the court deemed him a flight risk. Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.

To now go free, in addition to the bail money, the 40-year-old Alves is also required to hand over his Brazilian and Spanish passports 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 must make weekly check-ins at the courthouse. He still has a residence near the city.

The decision came a day after a hearing where Alves told the court via video conference from prison that he had no intention of fleeing the country, according to his lawyer, Inés Guardiola.

Guardiola and the state prosecutor have appealed the conviction. His defense is seeking his acquittal while the prosecutor wants his prison sentence increased to nine years. The victim’s lawyer wants him put away for 12 years. There is no date yet for the new trial at a higher court in Barcelona. After that, it can then go to the Supreme Court in Madrid.

The panel of judges at the Provincial Court in Barcelona was split on the decision, two to one. The judges in favor of granting Alves bail said that they believed the flight risk had lowered, adding that they considered the fact that Alves responded to police summons when he was arrested while visiting Spain. The other judge disagreed, saying he was still able to flee despite the restrictions placed on him.

Another factor cited by the two judges was that according to Spanish law a person cannot be kept in preventative detention for more than half the period of his or her prison sentence while awaiting an appeal. In Alves’ case that leaves him just over a year before he would reach the mid-way mark of two years, three months, while the appeals could easily take longer. Once his appeals are exhausted, and if his conviction is maintained, then depending on the final sentence he could go back to prison.

As part of his conviction, the court ordered Alves to pay 150,000 euros ($162,000) in compensation to the victim, banned him from approaching the victim’s home or place of work, and from communicating with her by any means for nine years.

He was with Mexican club Pumas when he was arrested. Pumas terminated his contract immediately.

Alves won dozens of titles with elite clubs including Barcelona. He helped Brazil win two Copa Americas and an Olympic gold medal. He played for Barcelona from 2008-16, helping to win three Champions Leagues, and briefly rejoined the club in 2022.

Alves is being held at Brians 2 prison about 45 minutes northwest of Barcelona.

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