Neymar rape probe ended owing to lack of evidence

Neymar has denied accusations that he raped Brazilian model Najila Trindade in May, an incident which dominated headlines before Brazil competed in the Copa America last month.
Neymar has denied accusations that he raped Brazilian model Najila Trindade in May, an incident which dominated headlines before Brazil competed in the Copa America last month.

SAO PAULO • Brazilian police probing rape allegations against football star Neymar have closed the case due to a lack of evidence, the Sao Paulo attorney general's office said on Monday night.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward has vehemently denied accusations that he raped Brazilian model Najila Trindade in a Paris hotel in May.

The incident, which has dominated headlines and conversations in the football-mad country for weeks, threatened to overshadow the Selecao's preparations for the Copa America.

However, hosts Brazil went on to clinch the South American title earlier this month without their biggest player, who was injured in a warm-up friendly before the opening match.

The scandal blew up early last month when Neymar published a seven-minute video on Instagram, the same social media platform he used to establish initial contact with Trindade, revealing that he had been accused of rape.

In an attempt to defend himself against the allegations, the video was accompanied by WhatsApp messages and racy images of his encounter - without her consent, possibly breaking Brazilian law.

The drama snowballed quickly, with extracts of a televised interview with Trindade, in which she accused Neymar of "aggression together with rape", aired just an hour before Brazil's friendly with Qatar.

In the following weeks, Neymar was questioned by police over the messages and also had to appear before police in Sao Paulo.

As the case dragged on, police filed a defamation suit against Trindade, who was dropped by multiple lawyers, after she insinuated the force was corrupt.

"The police are bought, aren't they? Or am I crazy?" she told local TV channel SBT last month, in response to questions over the police investigation of an alleged theft of a tablet from her home. The device contained a short video she claims has conclusive evidence she was sexually assaulted.

Despite the seriousness of the allegations, polls have shown that most Brazilians believe Neymar is innocent.

Controversy has followed the world's most-expensive player at €222 million (S$338.9 million), since his 2017 move, from long-term injuries to being accused of being a bad influence in the dressing room.

He has since made it clear he wants to return to Spanish champions Barcelona this summer and has yet to feature during PSG's pre-season tour in Asia.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office told Agence France-Presse that prosecutors have two weeks to evaluate the case, with a final ruling to be made by a judge, while Neymar's representative refused to comment.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Neymar rape probe ended owing to lack of evidence'. Print Edition | Subscribe