Court rules Robinho must serve Italian gang rape sentence in Brazil

Court rules Robinho must serve Italian gang rape sentence in Brazil


For Robinho, it has been a dramatic fall from grace

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Brasília (AFP) – Former Manchester City and Real Madrid striker Robinho must serve a nine-year rape sentence -- imposed on him by an Italian court -- in Brazil, judges in Brasilia ruled Wednesday.

The court decided by nine votes to two in favor of an Italian request that Robinho be jailed in his home country after he was found guilty of taking part in the gang rape of an Albanian woman celebrating her 23rd birthday at a Milan nightclub in 2013.

It also ruled the sentence must begin "immediately." Robinho's lawyer, Jose Alckmin, told reporters he would work to keep his client out of jail while they appealed.

Robson de Souza, popularly known as "Robinho," was not present for Wednesday's decision.

The former Brazil international, now 40, was convicted by an Italian court in 2017 for the crime committed four years earlier, when he was playing for AC Milan.

He lost in the Milan Court of Appeal in 2020 and then had his sentence upheld by Italy's highest court in 2022, after which Italian prosecutors issued an international arrest warrant for him.

Brazil does not extradite its nationals, however, and Italy asked that Robinho be made to serve his sentence in his home country instead.

The footballer, who protests his innocence, told Brazilian network TV Record in an interview broadcast Sunday the sex had been "consensual." "I never denied it (the encounter). I could have denied it because my DNA was not there, but I'm not a liar."

He also accused the Italian justice system of "racism."

According to the complaint, Robinho and his co-accused had made the young woman drink "to the point of rendering her unconscious and unable to resist" and then had "sexual relations several times in a row" with her.

In March 2021, the Milan court published its reasoning for upholding the original conviction, saying Robinho had acted with "special contempt for the victim, who was brutally humiliated."

Robinho's case and that of former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain defender Dani Alves have sparked criticism over the failure of football authorities in Brazil to condemn violence against women.

In February, former Brazil international full-back Alves, 40, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for raping a woman in a nightclub in Barcelona.

On Wednesday, a court in Spain ruled he would be released from jail pending an appeal in a one-million-euro bail agreement denounced by the victim's lawyer as "justice for the rich."

'Completely drunk'

For Robinho, it has been a dramatic fall from grace.

Having begun his career in 2002 at Santos, a team made famous by Brazil great Pele, Robinho was touted as the successor to the golden generation of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.

In 2005, he joined Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham at Real Madrid. He went on to play for Manchester City from 2008 to 2010, and for Milan for four years until 2014.

In 2009, he was briefly detained in England for an alleged sexual assault of a young woman, but the charges were dropped after an investigation.

He sought to return to Santos in 2020 but the club suspended the deal after pressure from fans and sponsors, leading to the abrupt end of his career.

At about the same time, TV channel Globo Sports had released excerpts of a recording Italian prosecutors used to secure their conviction, in which Robinho purportedly said: "I'm laughing because I don't care. The woman was completely drunk. She doesn't even know what happened."

Robinho has 100 Brazil caps and 28 goals for his country. He also played in China with Guangzhou Evergrande, Atletico Mineiro in Brazil and Turkish club Istanbul Basaksehir.

Brazil president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had said he hoped Robinho could serve his sentence on home soil.