FORMER Barcelona star Dani Alves is set to appear in court this morning as he is facing a 12-year prison sentence for rape.
The 40-year-old Brazilian defender was driven to court in a police van from Brians 2 Prison near Barcelona where he has been held on remand for more than a year.
The dad-of-two has previously confirmed he had sex with a woman in the nightclub’s toilet but insisted it was consensual.
A lawyer acting for Alves’ female accuser, has called for him to face the maximum 12-year prison sentence if he is found guilty.
Both prosecutors are also seeking a compensation payment of £128,000.
Failing an eleventh-hour plea bargain deal, the trial will start at 10am local time at Barcelona’s Audiencia Provincial Court and is scheduled to last for three days.
The three judges, who are sitting without a jury as is normal in Spain for sex crime cases, have around a fortnight to return their verdict once the trial ends and will announce their decision in a written ruling.
Alves, who can opt to take the stand on the last day, has insisted he had consensual sex with the woman who has accused him of forcing himself on her.
At first he had claimed to have never met the woman in question, before backtracking at a later date and saying the pair had consensual sex.
It was also initially reported he had put his hands down a woman’s underwear in the club’s VIP area’s toilets, but it later emerged the 23-year-old was alleging she had been the victim of rape.
She has been given permission to testify behind-closed-doors.
Her cousin and a female friend who were with her the night of the alleged sex attack are among the witnesses called to give evidence along with waiters in the VIP area of Sutton’s where Alves met the woman whose accusations ended with his arrest and incarceration ahead of today’s trial.
Alves’ wife Joana Sanz will testify on behalf of the footballer following his pre-trial public apology to the model for “cheating on her” with the woman who claims he raped her.
The footballer was ordered to stand trial last November.
Initially, it was reported Alves had been accused of putting his hands down a woman’s underwear inside a toilet in the VIP area of Sutton nightclub before it emerged his alleged victim was saying she had been raped.
He was sacked by Mexican side UNAM Pumas following his arrest in Barcelona at the start of last year after he flew back to the Catalan capital to attend his mother-in-law’s funeral.
He has made repeated bail requests but they have all been turned down, with judges saying his alleged victim’s version of events was coherent and pointing out Alves had changed his story several times as the evidence authorities have against him has emerged.
Alves claimed before his arrest he had never met his female accuser but ended up backtracking after being held.
In an exclusive interview from his cell in Brians 2 Prison near Barcelona last June with Spanish TV and newspaper reporter Mayka Navarro, he claimed: “The only person I have to ask for forgiveness is my wife, Joana Sanz.”
As well as two spells at Barcelona, Alves has played for Seville, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Sao Paulo.
He is widely considered one of the greatest full-backs of all time.
He became the oldest player to represent Brazil at the World Cup in December 2022 in Qatar.
At the start of the year his mum Lucia Alves caused controversy and left herself open to future prosecution by naming and picturing her son’s rape accuser in a social media post she has now removed.