(FILE) Archive photograph dated 12/02/2022 of former FC Barcelona footballer Dani Alves, who is facing sexual assault charges in Barcelona, Spain. EFE/Antonio Lacerda

Barcelona court confirms Alves will stand trial on sexual assault charges

Barcelona, Spain, Nov 14 (EFE).- Barcelona’s High Court confirmed Tuesday that to Brazilian international footballer Dani Alves will stand trial on charges of sexual assault.

The former FC Barcelona player is accused of raping a 23-year-old woman in a nightclub in the city in December.

The court confirmed the prosecution of the former Brazilian international, concluding that statements from the alleged victim and witnesses provide sufficient evidence to send him to trial for the crime of sexual assault.

Alves, who has been in jail since Jan. 20 when he was arrested by Catalan police, was formally indicted in July.

The footballer’s defense team has called for the case to be annulled because details of the investigation have been leaked to the press, which his lawyer Ines Guardiola argued undermined Alves’ right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Guardiola has also accused the judge of losing her “neutrality.”

While the court recognized that cases involving “public figures” such as Alves have an “unquestionable media impact”, it concluded that the media spotlight does not affect the judicial process.

The court also noted that despite its criticism of the judge, Alves’ defense team has not requested her recusal or provided evidence of her alleged impartiality.

During the course of the investigation, Alves has changed his version of what happened on December 30 four times.

He first claimed that he did not know the woman, before admitting that had met her in the bathroom of the nightclub, but that nothing had happened between them.

When the judge confronted him with biological evidence, he said the woman had performed consensual oral sex on him.

Then, in April when the results of biological tests that found traces of Alves’ semen in the alleged victim’s private parts had been released, the football player testified that he had had consensual sex and that he had initially lied to police in order to hide his infidelity from his wife, Spanish model Joana Sanz, who has since ended their relationship. EFE