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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Dani Alves trial day two: 21 witnesses testify, including ex-Barcelona star’s wife

The second day of the Dani Alves trial — considered the ‘trial of the year’ in Spain — started on time, unlike on Monday. The area around the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Catalunya (High Court of Justice of Catalonia) in Barcelona was just as packed, but the process was much quicker.

Proceedings on Tuesday started at 3pm local time and lasted until shortly after 6pm, with a half-hour break in between.

Alves was again present in the courtroom, moved from the court cells to the dock. He sat dressed in a long-sleeved grey polo shirt and was wearing glasses.

He has been in detention since his arrest for alleged sexual assault — a charge he has repeatedly denied — in January last year.

After hearing the testimony of the alleged victim, her friend and cousin, two waiters and the doorman of the Sutton nightclub on Monday, on Tuesday it was the turn of 21 further witnesses. That included Alves’ wife Joana Sanz and Bruno Brasil — Alves’ friend who was with him on the night of December 30 2022, when it is alleged Alves raped a 23-year-old woman in a private toilet in the Sutton nightclub, which Alves denies.

The first to testify was the manager of the nightclub, Robert Massanet.

Massanet said his attention was first drawn when he saw three young women, including the alleged victim, crying at the entrance and talking to the doorman. He went there to talk to them.

He said that he wanted to know what had happened. At the moment he went over, he said, Dani Alves passed by in the exit corridor and the alleged victim said: “It was him.”

Massanet then urged the women to go to a quieter private room. “She (the alleged victim) was very upset and wanted to go home, but I needed to know what had happened,” he said.

“She told me she had gone in (to the private toilet) voluntarily but then wanted to come out and couldn’t. She didn’t think anyone would believe her,” Massanet testified.

He said that the woman at first did not want the club to activate its protocol for a case of alleged sexual assault. “I explained to her that we had to do it,” Massanet said. “It was hard for her to understand because she wanted to leave and go home, but we made her see that it was our responsibility to activate the protocol.”

After Massanet spoke, it was the turn of Rafael Lledo, who on that night was in charge of managing the VIP room where Alves and the alleged victim met. He said that Alves was a regular customer at the venue but that he had a different attitude that night.

“He was not as usual, as if he had been drinking or smoking something,” Lledo said.

An employee of the nightclub later claimed to have treated the alleged victim for a knee injury. He defined the wound as a burn.

He claimed to have heard the alleged victim tell her friends that “she knew what she was letting herself in for but that then she regretted it, that she didn’t want to be there anymore”.

He defined the woman’s attitude as “very nervous” and said she was “crying a lot”. She also said that she did not want to report the incident to police but her friends convinced her to do so.

The next to testify was a lawyer whom the alleged victim’s friend called on the night of the alleged events. It was the friend’s boss, as she was a trainee in a law firm. She called him for advice on how to proceed.

“She told me how they approached what happened,” he said of his young colleague. “You could tell that, even though she was nervous, she was handling the environment.”

Then it was time for the testimony of Brasil, the friend who was with Alves at table number six in Sutton’s VIP room. He came to the trial with an interpreter to help him translate between Portuguese and Spanish. He said the player was very drunk on the night of the events.

Bruno Brasil, a friend of Brazilian footballer Alves, arrives outside the Barcelona court (Lluis Gene/AFP via Getty Images)

Brasil said before going to the Sutton club they went to have some dinner at La Taverna del Clinic restaurant with two other friends. They were drinking there, ordered some bottles of wine — Alves drank one and a half by himself — and Japanese whisky, of which Alves drank two glasses. According to Brasil, Alves was the one who drank the most.

He said they then went to Nuba, a well-known bar in the uptown area of Barcelona, where they continued drinking. He said Alves drank four gin and tonics.

Brasil put a lot of emphasis during his statement on Alves’ drinking, even saying that he had to drive to the Sutton club because the footballer was in no condition to.

Once at the club, they ordered a three-litre bottle of champagne, and Brasil said he invited the alleged victim and her two companions to join them in their private room. He said that he was dancing with them, that at one point Alves went to the bathroom and that the alleged victim then followed him. He said Alves did not tell him about anything he had planned before he left to go to the bathroom.

When the former Barcelona player came out, Brasil said, they all continued dancing for a while, until the three women left. After a while, they did the same, as they had been drinking heavily.

He then drove Alves home. He said he had not seen the alleged victim and her two friends on their way out of the club because “the exit corridor was very dark”.

Both the alleged victim’s lawyer and the legal team working for Spain’s public prosecutor’s office claimed there were contradictions in Brasil’s testimony. In the pre-trial phase, Brasil testified that “the footballer had stomach problems and that is why he left quickly” and that “they only drank half a drink”. Brasil replied that this “half a drink” referred to his own consumption and not that of Alves.

Then it was the turn of 12 agents of the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police) who attended to the alleged victim in various capacities after the Sutton club’s director activated its alleged sexual assault protocol.

The first officer to speak was the one who investigated the case. They stated that the woman “was very hesitant over whether to testify or not because of all that this would entail”.

She also said that Alves’ lawyer was made aware of the facts from the very beginning, something that contrasts with what the defence has said. Alves has changed lawyers twice since his arrest in January last year.

The officer who took the alleged victim’s statement also assured that the complainant “was very nervous and affected” on the night of the alleged sexual assault and corroborated that her version of events was consistent with what was seen in the images captured by security cameras.

Another officer added that the alleged victim “was very hesitant about reporting it because she was afraid that her name would come up because of the defendant”. She added: “She thought no one would believe her.”

Then it was the turn of the officer who first attended to the woman at Sutton. He said: “We had to calm her down because she was unable to speak. She told us that she had had a mishap with a person. She told us that the defendant had not let her out, that he had touched her genitals on the inside.

“Her friends, who could speak better than she could, gave us more details,” the police officer added. “They were very nervous and told us that the accused had touched them as well. She didn’t want to report it, but we told her what she could do and what options she had.”

The officer also said that the woman told them that “she didn’t want money” but that “she wanted justice”.

Regarding the arrest of Alves, the agents in charge of carrying it out explained that they did it in his office in order to “preserve his privacy”, and to “prevent photos from being taken and leaked”.

After a half-hour break, it was the turn of another friend who was with Alves that day. This friend had lunch with him and they were together from 2.30pm until 1am. Alves and Brasil arrived at the Sutton club at about 2am.

“We drank five bottles of wine and one bottle of whisky,” he said, insisting that he and Alves had drunk a lot. Another of Alves’ friends was also called to testify and said the same.

The manager of La Taverna del Clinic also testified and stated that Alves had left in “a very different state than when he entered”.

The next to testify — and the last one as public prosecutors successfully appealed against the appearance of another witness — was Alves’ wife, the model Joana Sanz.

Alves’ wife Joana Sanz (centre) leaves the courtroom with Alves’ mother (right)

The judge gave Sanz the option of not testifying in the case against her husband, something she rejected. She said that that night her husband “arrived home very drunk, smelling of alcohol, hit himself against a wardrobe and fell on the bed in a state of exhaustion”.

What is the allegation Alves is facing?

In January 2023, former Barcelona player Alves was arrested by local police investigating an alleged sexual assault in a nightclub in the Spanish city.

Alves, who played 408 matches for Barca across two spells, as well as 126 times for Brazil, has been in custody since his arrest on January 20, 2023. Until this week, he had been held in a prison to the north west of Barcelona.


The Spanish public prosecutor’s office alleges Alves raped a 23-year-old woman in the Sutton nightclub in Barcelona on December 30, 2022.

Alves has repeatedly denied the allegation, including at several appeal hearings. He has given different versions of events to investigators and, in an interview in June, admitted initially “lying” about what happened.

When first giving his version of events, Alves denied sexual penetration had taken place, saying the woman had performed oral sex on him.

On April 17 last year, the second time he testified before the investigating judge, he said sexual penetration did take place, but that it was consensual. Alves admitted lying in previous statements “to save my marriage from infidelity”.

Spanish public prosecutors are requesting a nine-year prison sentence for Alves. They are also asking for him to pay the alleged victim €150,000 (£130,500) in compensation and for him to not be allowed within one kilometre of the woman.

What is coming up on Wednesday?

Wednesday will be the final day of the trial, with Alves expected to give his final statement. The court will also hear details of the evidence gathered and expert analysis of that evidence.

Despite the trial being due to finish tomorrow, it’s expected there will not be a verdict for another 20 days.

Alves denies the charge against him and the trial continues.

(Top photo: David Zorrakine/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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