A woman who accused former Brazil football star Dani Alves of rape gave evidence Monday on the first day of his trial while her cousin said the nightclub attack had ruined her life.
The victim, whose identity is protected, testified for over an hour from behind a screen, with court sources saying this was to avoid her being "visually confronted" by Alves who listened in the court in a white shirt and jeans.
The victim's testimony was only seen by the judge, her face was pixellated and her voice modified to avoid her identity being exposed in case any footage was leaked.
The 40-year-old Alves, one of the world's most acclaimed footballers following a career that saw him play at Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, is accused of raping the woman in a VIP section of a Barcelona nightclub in the early hours of December 31, 2022.
Alves, who was arrested three weeks later and has been detained ever since, denies the charges against him. The defender was brought to court in handcuffs.
Prosecutors are calling for a nine-year jail sentence followed by 10 years of probation and have demanded he pay 150,000 euros ($162,000) in compensation to the victim.
- 'Crying uncontrollably' -
Prosecutors say Alves was at the Sutton nightclub with a friend when he met the woman with her cousin and a friend and bought them champagne.
He then asked the victim to go with him to another area where there was a bathroom which she was unaware of. Once inside Alves adopted a "violent attitude", assaulting her and forcing her to have sex, despite her protests, the prosecution said.
"The victim repeatedly asked him to let her go, saying she wanted to leave but the defendant didn't let her," causing her "anguish and terror", prosecutors added.
Testifying in court, her friend confirmed her account, saying Alves had a very "touchy-feely attitude" and had been "even more obsessive" with the victim.
Breaking down in tears, the friend recalled how the victim was "crying uncontrollably" after leaving the bathroom, asking to leave immediately and saying Alves had "really hurt" her.
- PTSD symptoms -
After receiving medical attention that night, the woman filed a complaint on January 2 but the prosecution said she now suffers from "heightened post-traumatic stress".
"She can't sleep, she takes medication.. and has started taking anti-depressants," her cousin told the court, saying she "barely leaves the house" since the attack.
Alves is expected to testify last on Wednesday at the end of the trial.
Another 30 or so witnesses have been called to testify, including Alves' wife, friends of the victim and staff from the nightclub.
A verdict is due several weeks later.
- 'Clear conscience' -
The three-time Champions League winner initially denied knowing the woman in a TV interview but later said they had consensual sex. He told La Vanguardia newspaper in June he had lied to because he was afraid his wife would leave him.
"I have a really clear conscience regarding what happened that night," he told the newspaper.
"What happened and what didn't happen. And what didn't happen is that I forced this woman to do anything that we did."
His mother Lucia Alves, who was in court on Monday, could also face legal action after naming her son's accuser and posting pictures of her on social media in January. She has since removed the post.
The court has repeatedly rejected a request for him to be released on bail, saying he was a flight risk.
Alves is widely considered as one of the greatest defenders of all time, winning 42 trophies during a highly successful career including three Champions League wins with Barcelona and two Copa Americas with Brazil.
The peak of his career was with Barcelona between 2008 and 2016 when he won 23 trophies. At the time of his arrest, he was contracted to Mexican club Pumas UNAM. He was sacked soon after being detained.