Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy has been freed on bail ahead of his trial on rape charges.
Mendy, 27, accused of a series of serious sex offences against young women, was freed after a bail hearing at Chester Crown Court on Friday.
The French international has been in custody for 134 days, since first being arrested and charged on August 26 last year.
The footballer, held at HMP Altcourse, Liverpool before recently being transferred to HMP Manchester, was granted bail by Judge Patrick Thompson at a private hearing from which the press was excluded, while bail was discussed.
The defendant had been due to go on trial this month, but the trial has been put back to June 27 at the earliest.
After bail had been discussed between lawyers for Mendy and the judge, reporters were allowed back into court.
Judge Thompson granted Mendy bail until January 24, the date of his next court hearing.
The full bail conditions were not given in open court, but Mendy was told he must live at his home address, not to contact complainants and surrender his passport by midnight on Friday.
Mendy, wearing a black suit and white shirt, replied, “OK” to the judge.
The defendant, of Withinlee Road, Prestbury, Cheshire, is accused of eight offences against five different women including seven counts of rape relating to four women and one count of sexual assault.
The charges are three counts of rape, alleged to have happened on October 11 2020; sexual touching on January 2 2021; two counts of rape on July 24 2021 and two counts of rape on August 23 2021.
Mendy sat in the dock alongside his co-defendant, Louis Saha Matturie, of Eccles, Greater Manchester.
Matturie, 40, is accused of six counts of rape and one of sexual assault.
Ian Unsworth QC, prosecuting, told the court that on Thursday further charges of one count of rape and one count of sexual assault were authorised for Matturie.
He will appear in court next week on the additional charges.
None of the women involved, as complainants of alleged sex offences, can be identified.
A decision on the application for bail by Matturie has yet to be made.
Mendy has played for Manchester City since 2017, when he joined from Monaco for a reported £52m.
He was suspended by the club after being charged by police, pending an investigation.