RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil has refused to ratify the extradition of former national team star Robinho to Italy where he was sentenced to nine years in prison for gang sexual violence against an Albanian woman in 2013.

The decision was based on article 5 of the Federal Constitution of 1988 which protects Brazilian citizens against extradition. Notoriously, a number of Brazilian football officials have used the clause to avoid extradition to the United States on charges arising out of the FIFAGate corruption scandal.

The Robinho decision comes only weeks after the Italian Ministry of Justice requested the extradition of Robinho for involvement in the gang rape of a young Albanian woman in a Milan nightclub, on January 22, 2013.

Robinho’s friend Ricardo Falco was also sentenced to nine years in prison in Italy. Four other allegedly participated in the rape.