Neymar 'relieved' after rape case dismissed
Brazilian football star Neymar said he was "relieved" on Friday after a judge in Sao Paulo dismissed the rape case against the Paris Saint Germain forward citing insufficient evidence.
"I'll be sincere and I'm not going to say I'm happy, but yes, relieved," said Neymar in an Instagram post.
The decision - the final episode in the rape case hanging over the superstar since June - comes on the recommendation of prosecutors just over a month after police ropped the case citing lack of evidence.
Neymar vehemently denied allegations he raped a Brazilian woman in a Paris hotel in May.
Judge Ana Paula Vieira de Moraes "accepted prosecutors recommendations and demanded the case be dismissed," a court spokesman told AFP.
Neymar said he would "never forget" this incident due to the "PAIN it caused me, my family and the people who really know me."
He added: "This scar will remain to remind me at what point people are capable of doing good things, but also of doing BAD things."
Prosecutor Flavia Merlini had argued that the plaintiff Najila Trindade, a Brazilian model, had provided no conclusive evidence of rape against the PSG player.
"What happened between four walls is impossible to know, we have her word against his," Merlini told reporters. "We have decided to ask for the closure of the case."
However Merlini said dismissal was not equivalent to acquittal for Neymar, 27, the world's most expensive footballer.
The case could be reopened at any time should new evidence emerge, she said.
Trinidade filed a rape complaint with Sao Paulo police on her return from a trip to Paris in May in which she said she was raped by Neymar following a pre-arranged meeting. The player insisted that relations were consensual.
Scandal snowballed quickly
The ugly affair has dominated headlines and conversations in football-mad Brazil for weeks and even threatened to derail the country's Copa America preparations.
The scandal blew up on June 2 when Neymar published a seven-minute video on Instagram, where he had first been in contact with Trindade, revealing that he had been accused of rape.
In an attempt to defend himself against the allegations, Neymar's video was accompanied by WhatsApp messages and images of his encounter with Trindade - without her consent, possibly breaking Brazilian law.
The drama quickly snowballed. Extracts of a televised interview with Trindade, in which she accused Neymar of "aggression together with rape," aired just one hour before he was about to play for Brazil in a pre-Copa friendly against Qatar.
Some critics had suggested the allegations would compromise his bid to help Brazil win the Copa on home soil.
But he injured his ankle against Qatar and was ruled out of the tournament, which Brazil went on to win.
In the following weeks, Neymar was questioned by police over the WhatsApp messages.
He also appeared before police in Sao Paulo, where Trindade had filed her complaint at the end of May.
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.
Despite the seriousness of the allegations, polls have shown that most Brazilians believe Neymar is innocent.
But he is now embroiled in another off-field drama, amidst credible rumours he's trying to force a move away from PSG and back to his previous club, Barcelona.