Dani Alves hires Lionel Messi’s lawyer after contradictory statement in alleged rape case

Cristóbal Martell, who represented the Argentina captain in his tax fraud trial, has been brought in to defend the soccer player, who remains in preventive custody due to flight risk

Dani Alves, during a match with Pumas, who have terminated the player's contract following his arrest.
Dani Alves, during a match with Pumas, who have terminated the player's contract following his arrest.agustín Cuevas (Getty)

Brazilian soccer star Dani Alves, a former player for FC Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, has added Cristóbal Martell to his defense team in a case of alleged rape that has led to the 39-year-old being held in pre-trial detention without bail at a Spanish prison after he voluntarily presented himself to the regional police force of Catalonia, the Mossos d’Esquadra, to testify. Martell, who is considered one of Barcelona’s finest legal minds having also represented Lionel Messi during the Argentina captain’s tax fraud case and the family of former regional premier Jordi Pujol, has been called in to firefight a process that has become increasingly difficult for Alves after he provided a chaotic and contradictory statement to the judge presiding the case. Martell’s involvement with Alves’ defense was announced by the lawyer who accompanied him during that testimony, Miraida Puentes Wilson, who said in a statement that the motive was to reestablish Alves’ “honor and dignity” and “prove his innocence.”

Puentes Wilson added that her role was to “assist” both the Mossos d’Esquadra and the court in the investigation into the alleged rape of a 23-year-old woman in the bathroom of the VIP area at Sutton, a high-end nightclub in Barcelona. Alves’ lawyer reminded the court that the soccer player had “voluntarily” made himself available to authorities despite being in Mexico when the allegations came to light. Alves had signed for Liga MX side Pumas last summer, but the club terminated his contract following his arrest. “The course of events and the deprivation of liberty suffered led to the desire to reinforce his defense with a specialist in criminal law,” the statement added. Puentes Wilson has previously represented Alves in various business and commercial activities, while Martell has an extensive list of VIP clients, many of them connected to the economic sphere.

Alves has been held in pre-trial custody since January 20 as the judge and prosecution considered the player to be a flight risk. After spending three nights in the Catalonia remand center, Brians 1, he was transferred on Monday to Module 13 of the Brians 2 prison, which primarily holds inmates who have been sentenced for crimes of a sexual nature. Alves’ defense team is considering filing an appeal to have Alves released from pre-trial detention. The immediate objective of the player’s lawyers is to have preventive custody reduced to a lesser measure, such as Alves’ passport being withdrawn or a ban on his leaving Spain.

The contradictions Alves provided in his statement, where he offered up to three different versions as new evidence was presented to him, including security camera footage and biological remains from the dress the young woman was wearing on the night of December 30, when the alleged rape took place, were among the reasons the judge decided to place him in preventive custody. The management of his defense was questioned by Alves’ family, who spent the weekend contacting several lawyers to change the player’s defense strategy. The victim, on the other hand, offered a “forceful” and “persistent” account, which both the prosecutor and the judge gave full credibility and which tallied with the version of events she provided to police on January 2, two days after the alleged assault. In her statement, she also waived the right to financial compensation in the event of a conviction.

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