Spanish court sets 1 million euro bail for Dani Alves to be released from prison

Alves has been held at a Barcelona prison since January, 2023. File photo: Reuters/Carl Recine

Barcelona: Brazilian soccer player Dani Alves can be released from jail on a 1 million euro ($1.1 million) bail while he appeals his rape conviction, after serving about a quarter of his four-and-a-half-year sentence, a Barcelona court ruled on Wednesday.

The conditions for Alves' release include relinquishing both his Brazilian and Spanish passports so he cannot leave Spain as well as an obligation to appear before the court on a weekly basis or whenever summoned.

The court also imposed a restraining order barring Alves from coming within 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) of the victim.

The case of Alves, one of the most successful soccer players in history, attracted significant attention not only due to the Brazilian's profile but because gender-based violence has become an increasingly dominant topic in Spain's public discourse.

The former Barcelona, Juventus and PSG defender has been held at a Barcelona prison since January, 2023. He was convicted on February 22 of raping a woman in the restroom of a Barcelona nightclub in 2022 and ordered to pay her 150,000 euros. He has appealed against the conviction.

In its ruling, the court's majority cited an article in the Spanish constitution enshrining a person's right to freedom and said it superseded the function of a prison on remand, as Alves' conviction was not yet final.

The 40-year-old defender's four-and-a-half-year prison sentence was below the nine and 12 years sought by the prosecutor and the victim respectively.

"To me, it's a scandal that they let a person who they know can get a million euros in no time walk free," the victim's lawyer, Ester Garcia, told RAC1 radio station immediately after the ruling.

The decision, which was not unanimous due to a dissenting vote from one of the three judges on the panel, can be challenged on appeal.

Garcia said she was "outraged and dissatisfied" with the ruling, adding it was "a justice (system) for the rich" and that she would lodge an appeal.

The court's decision and bail imposed was also criticised by far-left Sumar party, the junior partner in Spain's ruling government coalition.

"Justice is patriarchal and discriminates according to class. Enough already," it posted on social platform X.

Alves' lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

His was one of the most high-profile trials in Spain since a law was passed in 2022 that made consent a key element in sexual assault cases and widened the range of prison time.

Alves benefited from this law, introduced by the Socialist-led government, as it carried a lower minimum sentence and reduced sentencing due to mitigating factors.

Alves joined Mexican side Pumas UNAM in 2022 for a reported monthly salary of 300,000 euros. The club terminated his contract following his arrest.

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