Rio police wants Neymar testimony linked to rape accusation
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro’s cybercrime police division wants Neymar to testify about a video he published with messages and images allegedly exchanged with the woman who accuses him of raping her in a Paris hotel.
The police interview has yet to be scheduled.
Investigator Paulo Sartori of Rio’s cybercrime police division confirmed to The Associated Press that two of his agents on Monday visited Brazil’s training ground, where the team is preparing for the Copa America.
The rape investigation is conducted separately by the Sao Paulo state police.
After the first reports of the rape allegation on Saturday, Neymar published a seven-minute Instagram video in which he denied any wrongdoing and showed messages and images he says were exchanged with his accuser. Images of the unidentified woman, some of them blurred because of sexual content, also appeared.
The two policemen did not talk to journalists.
Vinicius Rodrigues, a spokesman for the Brazilian Football Confederation said, “the CBF suggested that it (Neymar’s testimony to Rio police) be postponed.”
Brazil plays friendlies against Qatar on Wednesday and against Honduras on Sunday. It opens the Copa America on June 14 against Bolivia in Sao Paulo.
The woman told Sao Paulo police on Friday that Neymar raped her on May 15 at 8:20 p.m. at the Sofitel Paris Arc De Triomphe hotel.
Earlier on Monday, a spokeswoman for Instagram said the social media channel removed the video posted by Neymar for violating its rules.
Neymar’s father and agent said his son should not regret posting the video, even if it means being prosecuted for revealing images of a private conversation.
“I prefer an internet crime than a rape crime,” Neymar da Silva Santos told TV Band. “He preserved his image, his name. He needed to defend himself quickly. It is best to be true and show what happened. We knew of the blackmailing, but not of the guts to go to police in a situation like this.”
Santos insisted Neymar was set up by the unidentified woman. He said the player noticed something was wrong on the second day of their meeting in Paris.
“She wanted him to go to the hotel again. He went and stayed for 10 minutes. He saw a cellphone against the wall, recharging. But then he noticed it was filming. She sent a message saying she has that video. She attacks him, he jumps to the bed and tries to calm her down. Asks her not to create a mess,” the father-agent said.
“He then calms her down, leaves the hotel and asks for her return ticket. Neymar also tried to film the conversation, but couldn’t. After that second day they didn’t speak. She sent the threatening messages later.”
Neymar’s father, and the player’s spokeswoman, Day Crespo, said they don’t know when the player will speak to police.
Davi Tangerino, the player’s attorney, said Neymar will talk to police whenever investigators see fit.
“This incident will have its page turned soon,” Tangerino said.
Yasmin Abdalla, the attorney of the accuser, did not reply to a request for comment.
Later on Monday even more doubts were cast into the story.
Lawyer Jose Edgard da Cunha Bueno Filho said in an interview with TV Globo that he left the case before the rape charges were made because he had disagreements with Neymar’s accuser. A document of his law firm shown by the Brazilian network said the reason for the termination of a contract with the accuser was her changing the initial complaints from assault to rape.
The rape allegation against Neymar also dominated Brazil coach Tite’s news conference on Monday, his first since the accusation was revealed.
Eighteen of the 25 questions were about Neymar.
“I know this is a personal matter and there needs to be time for people to judge the facts. I won’t allow myself to judge the facts,” Tite said. “What I can say to you is that I’ve been with Neymar for three years and in personal matters, between me and him, he is loyal and truthful.”
National team coordinator Edu Gaspar confirmed another police investigator visited the team’s training ground on Saturday to get information on the case.
“The first thing I did was to get some legal help,” Gaspar said. “The idea is that the legal help is here to solve the case as quickly as possible so the athlete can be with a cool head for Copa America.”
Gaspar also said Neymar will be released from training and matches whenever needed. The Copa America, being played in Brazil, runs from June 14 to July 7.
“The suggestion I have is that he is available as much as possible to respond to (police) requests,” Gaspar said.
The two agents of Rio’s cybercrimes division left 15 minutes after the end of the news conference.
AP video journalist Diarlei Rodrigues contributed to this report from Teresopolis.
AP reporter Diane Jeantet contributed to this report from Rio de Janeiro.