April 28, 2018

SPAIN: Thousands Protest On Thursday After Court Cleared Five Men Of The Gang Rape Of A Teenager They VideoTaped In Hotel Lobby At The 2016 San Fermin Bull-Running Festival In Pamplona.

Daily Mail, UK
written by Tariq Tahir For Mailonline and Reuters
Thursday April 26, 2018

Thousands of protesters took to the streets across Spain after a court cleared five men of the gang rape of a teenager at the 2016 San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona.

A court in the northern region of Navarra instead convicted the men, who had recorded video of the attack on their mobile phones and laughed about the incident afterwards on a Whatsapp group, with the lesser crime of sexual abuse.

The five men, including a former policeman and a former soldier, and the victim, who was 18 at the time of the incident, were not present in court.

The accused were named in the local media as soldiers Jose Angel Prenda, 29 and Alfonso Jesus Cabezuelo, 30.

They were convicted along with 29-year-old policeman Antonio Manuel Guerrero, who took the videos, and Jesus Escudero, 27, and 26-year-old Angel Boza.

The men, dubbed by Spanish media 'The Wolf Pack' after the name of their Whatsapp group, have been held in custody since July 2016 and were sentenced to between five and nine years.

The incident took place in the lobby of a building in the early hours of the morning at the San Fermin festival, which brings more than one million people to Pamplona for the nine-day-long festival in July.

One of the men stole the woman's mobile phone following the attack, leaving her with no means of contacting the friend with whom she had come to the festival.

She was found crying on a bench by a couple who rang the police when she said she had been sexually assaulted and later made a statement to officers describing the five men who were later arrested.

Fragments of video from the men's mobile phones taken at the scene were used as evidence in the trial, alongside witness accounts and biological tests.

The defence team argued the incident was a case of consensual group sex.

Thousands gathered in cities across Spain from Seville to Barcelona and outside the Justice Ministry in Madrid bearing notices reading 'I believe you sister' and chanting 'It's not abuse, it's rape'.

In Madrid, men and women packed central streets chanting 'Shame! Shame!' and 'No means No'. In Barcelona, thousands packed into the central square banging pots and pans and jangling their keys in the air.

The so-called 'Wolf Pack' case had already sparked widespread anger around Spain following concern over increased reports of sex attacks at the annual festival and over the mistreatment of women in general.

It has also drawn international attention, coming at a time of heightened global concern over the sexual abuse of women in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

After a five-month trial held behind closed doors to protect the victim's identity, a judge read out the sentences in the court in the northern region of Navarra.

The state prosecutor had asked for prison sentences of more than 20 years for each of the men. Instead they were given nine-year sentences.

Under Spanish law, the lesser charge of sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation.

The charge is used in cases of sexual activity between underage partners or those seen not capable of giving permission for sexual contact, such as those who are severely handicapped or under the influence of drugs or drink.

The judge, who did not give the reasoning behind the sentence, also ordered the men to pay the victim €50,000 in compensation. The ruling can be appealed in Spain's Supreme Court.

The Running of the Bulls involves hundreds of people dressed in white shirts and red neckerchiefs running down narrow streets in front of fighting bulls before ending in the city's bull-ring, where bullfights take place in the afternoon.

The festival is just as famous for the drinking and revelry on the sidelines, with huge street parties, processions and firework displays and draws thousands of tourists from all over the world.
The Guardian, UK
written by Sam Jones, in Madrid
Friday April 27, 2018

Spanish prosecutors are to appeal against the verdict in the case of five men who were of a woman during the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona and convicted of the lesser offence of sexual abuse.

News of the appeal came shortly before the Spanish government announced that it would re-examine the country’s sexual offences legislation to establish whether such crimes were adequately defined and categorised.

The verdict, which was announced on Thursday at the end of five months of deliberation by judges in the northern region of Navarre, prompted a furious public reaction and protests across Spain.

The trial had been seen as a cross-examination of the 18-year-old woman, rather than the men who attacked her. One of the three judges had argued that the defendants should have been acquitted of all charges except the theft of the victim’s phone.

On Friday morning, the Navarre regional government said its lawyers were working to appeal against the verdict, in which each defendant was jailed for nine years and ordered to pay the victim €10,000 (£8,800).

A spokeswoman said the regional government was looking into “possible contradictions” in the sentence, particularly the fact that while the judges had accepted key parts of the victim’s testimony, they had failed to find the evidence of violence and intimidation needed to secure a rape conviction.

The lawyers are expected to lodge their appeal with Navarre’s supreme court within the next 10 working days.

Ana Ollo, the region’s minister for citizen and institutional relations, said: “The government stands with the majority of its citizens, who yesterday expressed their unhappiness with, and rejection of, the sentence in dozens of places across Navarre.”

Olli said society “cannot understand how there is no violence or intimidation in a case like this”, adding that the continued focus on “women’s reactions instead of the behaviour of violent men” was at the heart of the problem.

“We just cannot understand how the collective assault of women can be seen by some sexist men as a leisure activity that goes unpunished and has become normalised,” she said.

Carlos Bacaicoa, a lawyer for the victim, said he was waiting to find out whether his client also wished to appeal against the verdict.

“We need to talk to her to see if she wants to appeal,” he told Efe news agency. “We feel that it needs to be appealed.”

The five men, who nicknamed themselves “the wolfpack” and included a soldier and a Guardia Civil police officer, were found guilty of the “continuous sexual abuse” of the woman in the lobby of a building in Pamplona in the early hours of 7 July 2016.

But they were not found guilty of rape. Under Spanish law, the lesser offence of sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation.

However, the judges recognised that the victim had been “stunned and unable to react” to what five older and stronger men were doing.

They also noted that she had adopted “an attitude of submission and subjugation” during the attack and “she did not freely give her consent; rather, it was coerced or forced given the situation”.

Speaking on Thursday, Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Sรกenz de Santamarรญa, said that while the sentences ought to be respected, authorities needed to analyse what had happened “to avoid such behaviour happening again in this country”.

The following day, the government announced the review of existing legislation. Its spokesman, รรฑigo Mรฉndez de Vigo, described the Pamplona attack as “despicable”. He said that while the government respected the independence of the courts, it “has always been, is, and will always be on the side of the victims”.

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