FORMER Football Association chief Luis Rubiales appeared in Spain’s national High Court today, where he faced questions for the first time from a judge over his forcible kiss of women’s team player Jenni Hermoso at the World Cup final on August 20 in Sydney.
Rubiales denied all of the charges against him in the criminal case, according to judicial sources present in the court who spoke to Spanish daily El Pais.
The public prosecutor, meanwhile, requested that a restraining order be put in place to keep him 200 metres away from Hermoso. The judge approved that measure on Friday.
Rubiales, who finally quit from his role earlier this week as the pressure mounted against him to do so, arrived at the court at 11.15am on Friday morning accompanied by his lawyer. He did not respond to the throngs of journalists waiting outside the court, many of whom were from foreign media.
He is facing charges of sexual assault and of coercion: for the kiss that he planted on Hermoso at the medal ceremony after Spain beat England 1-0 at the final, and also for allegations that he pressured her afterwards to come out in his defence once the controversy began.
According to media reports, he answered questions this morning not just from the judge, but also the public prosecutor, his own lawyer, and the legal team representing Jenni Hermoso.
As well as the restraining order, the public prosecutor called for Rubiales to have to report to the court on a fortnightly basis, as well as avoid all contact via any means with Hermoso during the investigative phase of the case. The judge also approved the request for no contact between the two on Friday.
According to Spain’s criminal code, Rubiales could face jail time if found guilty of either sexual assault or coercion. But in both cases the court could decide to levy a fine instead.
Rubiales has always claimed that the kiss he planted on Hermoso’s lips at the World Cup medal ceremony was consensual, but she has publicly stated that this was not the case.
“I felt vulnerable and the victim of an assault, an impulsive, sexist act that had no kind of consent on my part,” she said in a statement. “I was not respected.”
She also told the Solicitor General’s office that subsequently both she and those close to her ‘suffered constant and repeated pressure on the part of Luis Rubiales and his professional colleges to justify and approve the facts’.
Apart from a half-hearted apology, Rubiales has been defiant since the controversy broke out, insulting those who criticised him, and claiming he is the victim of ‘false feminism’ and a ‘witch-hunt’.
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