Five men gang-raped an 18-year-old at the 2016 San Fermin bull-running festival in Spain. However, a year later, instead of being charged for sexual assault, they were charged with a lesser offense at a court in the northern region of Navarra.
The five men including a former policeman and a former soldier were not present in the court. The victim, whose identity hasn’t been revealed for protection purposes, also did not appear in front of the court.
Jose Angel Prenda, Jesus Cabezuelo, Jesus Escudero, Angel Boza and Antonio Manuel Guerrero, who were known as “The Wolf Pack” by local media, offered to walk the victim to her car.
However, later they attacked her and recorded a video of the horrific incident on their phones in the lobby of a building before the festival started. They also laughed about it on a Whatsapp group later.
They also stole the girl’s phone, leaving her with no means of contacting her friend who had accompanied her to the festival.
The victim was later found crying on a bench. After she described her terrifying encounter to the police officers, the culprits were arrested. However, their defense lawyers said the video shows the teenager actually let one of the men kiss her and that is why her eyes were closed.
On the contrary, the victim’s lawyer said she was too scared to move. “The defendants want us to believe that on that night they met an 18-year-old girl, living a normal life, who, after 20 minutes of conversation with people she didn’t know, agreed to group sex involving every type of penetration, sometimes simultaneously, without using a condom,” said the prosecutor Elena Sarasate said.
“The obvious thing would be to exchange phone numbers, not steal her phone,” she said.
The prosecutor had asked for a sentence of 20-years for each of the men who attacked the teenager, but they were only sentenced to prison for nine-years – and that too for an offense lesser than rape.
In Spain, rape is another charge while the lesser charge of sexual abuse is different. The lesser charge does not involve violence or intimidation. It is used in cases where minors have sex or people who aren’t capable of giving consent, such as a drunken person or a person who is severely handicapped.
The judge did not give an explanation for the shorter sentence and lesser crime charge. He ordered the men to compensate the victim with 50,000 euros ($60,825). The judge read the sentences after a five-month trial.
People across Spain came out on streets to protest against this injustice.
“The lack of legal recognition that sexual relations without consent constitute rape gives rise to the idea that it’s down to us as women to protect ourselves from rape,” said Amnesty International.
“I always respect judicial sentences but this is one I neither understand nor agree with. We must have zero tolerance for sexual violence throughout society,” said Susana Díaz, the president of the regional government of Andalusia.
Thumbnail / Banner : Reuters, Jon Nazca