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Brazil: Former striker Robinho begins 9-year jail term for rape in rural penitentiary

Brazil: Former striker Robinho begins 9-year jail term for rape in rural penitentiary
On this April 27, 2016 photo footballer Robinho is seen in an Atletico Mineiro jersey.   -  
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Victor R. Caivano/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Former footballer Robinho arrived early Friday (Mar. 22)at the rural Tremembe penitentiary where he is expected to serve at least 40% of his nine-year sentence for rape.

The 40-year-old Robinho will spend the next 10 days alone in his cell, a common measure for the safety of rapists newly arrived at the prison, local authorities said.

Brazil criminal law says convicts such as Robinho could get a more flexible jail regime for good behavior in prison. He will be eligible in 2027, when almost half of his sentence has been served.

Tremembe penitentiary has about 430 inmates, and is 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Sao Paulo. It is split between full-time prisoners such as Robinho, and those who are permitted to leave for the day and come back at dinner time to spend the night.

The sizes of the cells vary from eight to 15 square meters (86 to 160 square feet). Up to six inmates can be jailed in the biggest cells, according to the Sao Paulo state government. Tremembe has soccer pitches, an ecumenical room and a library, among other assets. Visitors are allowed only at weekends.

Robinho was convicted and sentenced in Italy for raping a woman in a group sexual assault in 2013, when he played for AC Milan. Italy asked Brazil to jail him in his home nation since he had already returned by the time he was convicted in 2017. Brazil doesn't extradite nationals, but allows convictions from foreign courts to be served here.

Robinho was jailed on Wednesday night after one of the country's highest courts ruled his sentence in Italy was valid in Brazil. He has an appeal pending at the Brazilian Supreme Court, as he seeks a retrial on the grounds of national sovereignty. His lawyer José Eduardo Alckmin told reporters on Wednesday the result of the appeal should come in April.

Tremembe has been the jail for many notorious inmates, including Alexandre Nardoni, who killed his five-year-old daughter by throwing her from the sixth floor of her building in 2008; serial rapist Roger Abdelmassih, a doctor; and one of Pelé's sons, Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, who was caught money-laundering.

Without wearing any handcuffs, Robinho left his apartment building in Santos, outside Sao Paulo, in a black police car. He spent his first hours in custody at the local federal police office.

Brazilian law requires a judge to be available to listen to convicts about potential police abuse in the proceedings that led to their arrest. That hearing for the former footballer was only three minutes long.

“I informed them I was ready to go there (to the federal police office)," Robinho said in a video shared by local authorities. He also said his three children will be taken care of by their mother as he serves his sentence.

At about 10 p.m. local time he started being driven almost 200 kilometers (124 miles) to Tremembe.

Robinho relinquished his passport to Brazilian authorities a year ago. He continues to deny any wrongdoing and insists his sexual relations were consensual with the woman at a Milan bar.

Later, Robinho was praised as a footballer by new Brazil coach Dorival Júnior ahead of the team's friendly against England at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Júnior was his coach during a spell at Santos.

“Robinho was my player, a fantastic person. A professional of those that are above the average,” Júnior said in a press conference. “It is a hard moment. I think, first, about the families of those involved, about the victims of all these episodes ... which sometimes are not discussed. They are silenced because people don't have a voice.

"If there's a real proof of some kind of crime, he has to be penalized. As much as it hurts to say that about a person with whom I had a great relationship.”

Robinho was first convicted in 2017 and had his sentence upheld twice in Italy.

Robinho rose to national fame at age 18 in 2002 when he led Santos to its first national title since the Pelé era. He did it again two years later. He won the Confederations Cup with Brazil and left for Real Madrid, where he wasn’t as successful. He joined Manchester City in 2008 and one year later was accused of rape during a night out in Leeds. Police did not file charges.

Robinho returned to Santos in 2010 to be a mentor to a young Neymar. He won the Brazilian Cup and was a starter for Brazil at the 2010 World Cup. Afterwards, he moved to AC Milan and won Serie A. Following the rape case, he rejoined Santos and had stints in China and Turkey.

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