Ex-Brazilian footballer Dani Alves' plea that he had endured trial by media and should be granted additional time to prepare for his criminal prosecution for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in Barcelona in 2022 has been dismissed.
The 40-year-old former Barcelona defender was arrested in January last year and has been in custody since then in a jail outside the city.
The public prosecutor accuses Alves of compelling the woman into sexual activity without using protection and is seeking a nine-year prison sentence, along with damages amounting to 150,000 euros ($163,215).
Alves initially refuted any sexual encounter with the woman, whom he claimed not to know. He later admitted to having consensual sex with her in the VIP bathroom of a nightclub, stating that he initially denied it to protect his marriage.
Dressed in blue jeans and a white shirt, Alves sat in the front row of a courtroom at the Provincial Court of Barcelona, the highest court in the province, as his trial commenced on Monday.
His mother, accompanied by one of his brothers, blew kisses and made a heart-shaped sign with her hands as Alves, handcuffed and escorted by police officers, entered the room.
The three-judge panel rejected the plea from Alves' solicitor, Ines Guardiola, to halt the trial on the grounds that he did not have sufficient time to prepare for his initial police interview post-arrest and had been subjected to a simultaneous trial by media. The Alves trial is anticipated to span three days.
On Monday, the woman provided her testimony in a private hearing. She spoke from behind a screen, with her voice altered to safeguard her identity.
A total of 30 individuals are slated to give their testimonies, with Alves scheduled to testify last.
The case has garnered considerable attention not solely due to Alves' stature as one of the greatest players of all time.
In Spain, a charge of rape is now examined under the broader accusation of sexual assault, with rape considered as an exacerbating factor.
Alves has amassed over 40 trophies representing Brazil and clubs such as Barcelona, Sevilla, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain. After his arrest, he was dismissed by Mexico's Pumas UNAM.