How Could Admission of Drunkenness Impact the Trial?

How Could Admission of Drunkenness Impact the Trial?

The trial of footballer Daniel Alves is set to conclude on Wednesday (7). There is no set time for the announcement of the verdict, which Alves will wait for while in preventive detention in Spain. Throughout the first two days of the trial, witnesses frequently brought up Alves’ state of intoxication on the day the alleged assault took place in a Barcelona nightclub. It’s thought that the player’s legal team may use this as a means to lessen any potential sentence.

Alves was arrested preventively a year ago due to inconsistencies in his statements and the potential risk of him fleeing the country. He has changed his version of events at least twice, initially denying knowing the woman accusing him, then later admitting to having consensual sex with her which he claimed he initially lied about to hide his wife’s infidelity. In his latest version of events, Alves states that he was drunk on the night the incident occurred.

The defense team has used Alves’ alleged intoxication as reason to request suspension of the trial, arguing that the initial investigations were conducted without Alves’ knowledge. They also pointed out the lack of a breathalyzer test at the beginning of the investigation. However, Judge Isabel Delgado Pérez denied this request.

On the second day of the trial, three witnesses spoke about Alves’ state of intoxication: Bruno Brasil, a friend who was with Alves at the nightclub; the establishment manager; and Joana Sanz, Alves’ wife. Brasil had previously made a statement claiming that Alves’ trip to the bathroom was due to a “stomach ache”. At trial, he stated that he did not know why. He explained his changed account as a result of not expressing himself well in Spanish.

According to Rafael Lledó, the nightclub’s manager, Alves was a regular customer but, on the night of the incident, “he was not like usual” and seemed as though he had “been drinking or taking something”. Alves’ wife, Joana Sanz, was the last to testify on Tuesday. She said that Alves had gone out to dinner with friends and arrived home “very drunk” around 4 am on the night of the incident, bumping into a closet and “collapsing onto the bed.”

Experts consulted by Estadão suggest that references to Alves’ drunken state could be a defense strategy. However, while the Brazilian criminal procedural system is based on the Spanish one, there are differences in how intoxication is considered in these situations. In Brazil, the accused can only claim “being drunk” as a mitigation of criminal liability if it is proven that the drunkenness was “accidental”. This is not a requirement in Spain.

“The Spanish Penal Code (art. 20, paragraph 2) does not require the accidental nature of drunkenness to exclude criminal liability, as long as it is not intentional to assist in the criminal practice”, explains Maurício Sant’Anna dos Reis, a criminal lawyer and professor of Criminal Law at the CNEC Farroupilha College. However, in Brazil, the level of intoxication must be so severe that it “makes it impossible for the agent to understand the illegality of his actions.”

Alves’ changing accounts of the incident create a “negative impact”, according to experts. “The credibility of their allegations ends up reaching a level much lower than what the defense intends”, argues Leonardo Pantaleão, a specialist in Law and Criminal Procedure. Pantaleão suggests that the defense may try to reiterate that the sexual encounter was consensual, without violence, to avoid a criminal conviction for Alves.

The woman accusing Alves of a sexual crime attempted to leave the bathroom she entered with Alves, but was prevented from doing so by him. This was the testimony of the partner of the Sutton nightclub, where the incident took place, on the second day of the trial. Other witnesses were also heard. The final session takes place on Wednesday, with Alves and a few other witnesses set to testify.

Robert Massanet, partner of the Barcelona nightclub, described the woman as “altered” and said that he had difficulty convincing her to activate the Spanish sexual assault protocol. According to him, the woman was afraid of being discredited. “She told me that they wouldn’t believe her. And that she had gone in voluntarily (to the bathroom), that she immediately wanted to leave, but couldn’t. She was quite affected.”

Massanet explained that he saw her crying with a security guard when he learned of the accusation. He also noted that Alves walked past them and was identified by the woman. Massanet asked her if she had been penetrated, which she confirmed.

On the third and final day of the hearing, Alves is expected to testify. He has changed his account of events multiple times, switched his defense team, and has had three requests for provisional release denied due to the risk of him fleeing the country. There is no set date for the announcement of the verdict.

The woman accusing Alves of a sexual crime reaffirmed her account on the first day of the trial. Another woman interviewed on the same day also alleged that Alves had groped her before the assault. In addition to the accuser, five other people testified on Monday: a friend and a cousin of the accuser, two waiters, and a doorman at the nightclub where the incident took place. The trial is set to continue on Tuesday.

During one of the testimonies, which lasted 1h30, the woman who accuses Alves (her identity protected by a screen) spoke about going to the VIP area of the Sutton nightclub and being taken to Alves’ table by a waiter. She recounted dancing with Alves and, at some point, being led by him to a door. She claimed that she only realized it was a bathroom when they entered, at which point Alves allegedly used force to sexually assault her, without using a condom.

One of the friends who was with the accuser on the night of the incident testified that her friend came out of the bathroom “crying a lot” and “heartbroken”, repeatedly telling them that Alves had done something “very bad” to her. The witness said that the woman initially hesitated in reporting the incident because she thought they wouldn’t believe her, but decided to go to the police two days later after being convinced by her friends.

The cousin of the accuser’s wife stated that from the beginning she felt uncomfortable with Alves’ presence, alleging that he touched her in an intimate area while they were dancing. She said she saw Alves heading towards a door that she believed was an exit to the outside of the nightclub and told her cousin to “go talk to him”.

Minutes later, Alves walked back through the door with an “ugly face”. The woman then left the door, saying she needed to go home because Alves had done something “very bad” to her. According to the cousin of the accuser’s wife, the woman who accuses Alves has since started taking antidepressants, has stopped working, and only leaves the house when her family insists.

The hearing is set to conclude on Wednesday. Alves maintains his innocence and asserts that the sexual encounter was consensual. He has changed his account of events multiple times, switched his defense team, and has had three requests for provisional release denied due to the risk of him fleeing the country. The penalty for this type of crime in Spain is up to 12 years in prison. There is no set date for the announcement of the verdict.