Benevolent sentencing of the “Wolf Pack” five causes protest

Catalan MonitorNews Roundup, Vilaweb

Photo: The 5 men dubbed “La Manada” (The Wolf Pack) (Credit: Vilaweb)

By VIlaWeb Staff Writers

From April 26th, 2018

The Court of Navarra issued a ruling on the gang rape case of the group calling themselves “Wolf Pack” (La Manada). The court condemned the five members of the group -José Angel Prenda, Ángel Boza, Jesús Escudero, Alfonso Jesús Cabezuelo (soldier) and Antonio Manuel Guerrero (civil guard) – for having committed a sexual abuse, not rape, and therefore nine years in prison, including disqualification from the right of suffrage during the time of the conviction. In addition, each of them will have to pay a fine of 900 euros. On the other hand, they have been acquitted of the crimes of sexual aggression, rape, of theft with violence or intimidation and crimes against intimacy. One of them has been convicted robbery for having stolen the victim’s mobile phone.

They must also comply with a restraining order of five hundred meters from the victim, her address, place of work or any place visited by her. The court also prohibited them from establishing any type of communication with her for fifteen years. Once the prison sentence is fulfilled, they will spend five years under supervised freedom.

The lawyer for the victim, Miguel Ángel Morán, stated that he is ‘disappointed’ with the sentence. When he left the Palace of Justice of Pamplona after hearing the sentence, Morán indicated that the sentence for abuse, and not for sexual assault and rape, was not what he expected. Asked about how he received the ruling, he said he was ‘disappointed’. He indicated that they will appeal the sentence.

This benevolent sentence has unleashed indignation in the political and social world. A protest was quickly formed at the gates of the Court of Navarra. In addition, concentrations of people rejecting the sentence have been announced for Plaça de Sant Jaume in Barcelona and in the Plaza de la Ciudad in Valencia at 7 pm.

Bakartxo Ruiz, spokesman for the Bildu Party in Navarra, posted a forceful message: ‘Outrageous. Ruling that this was abuse means that there was no violence or intimidation. Trivializing violence towards women is just part of patriarchal violence. And the judicial system is one of its pillars’.

Bildu’s deputy in the Basque Parliament, Maddalen Iriarte said that “we all feel violated today. All of our support to the victim and recognition to the lesson of dignity the Pamplonesa citizenry have proided”, she wrote.

Elisenda Alamany, spokesman for Catalonia in Comú-Podem, wrote that she feels anger and helplessness “confronted with a justice system that once again turns its back on women. The sentence for La Manada is disgusting”, she said.

The joint spokesman for Compromís a les Corts, Mireia Mollà, stated that the message this sentence sent is that “if they do not kill us or not violently tear us, it is not rape”. Even so, Mollà said that they women will not be silent and that the sentence “is shameful, is indignant, and highlights a judicial system that mistreats us.”

The deputy of the same organistion, Isaura Navarro, referred to the fact that the conviction asserts that there was no violence: “So do you have to give up your life while being raped by 5 men for them to be convicted for it?”

Natàlia Sànchez, deputy of the CUP in the Parliament of Catalonia, tweeted an image with the faces of the five accused of rape. ‘Never forget their faces,’ she wrote. The message is accompanied by the tags ‘this is war’ and ‘the wolf pack is us’ (using the feminine of ‘us’).

The co-chair of the Greens / European Free Alliance of the European Parliament said it was shocked by the sentence: ‘How can this not be considered a violation by the judge? This is a clear banalisation of violence against women. I urge Spanish justice to correct this scandal. ‘

Irene Montero, a spokeswoman in Spanish Congress for Units Podem, was forceful: “Five aggressors force a woman into a doorway and rape her. It’s obvious that there is intimidation. That they acted in concert. That there is aggression. This sentence should be rape. While justice does not protect us, we will take care of ourselves. We are not alone. ‘

The public prosecutor was asking for a sentence of 22 years and 10 months in prison for sexual assault, crimes against intimacy and theft with intimidation. The private indictment brought by the victim requested twenty-four years and nine months in prison; and the popular accusations twenty five years and nine months. The defense team, on the other hand, had demanded the acquittal of the five defendants.

One of the three magistrates of the court that tried the case issued an individual vote because he considered that they should have been acquitted of all crimes, except for the theft of the victim’s mobile phone.

What is the difference between ‘sexual abuse’ and ‘sexual aggression’?

The sentence of the court condemned the five defendants for a crime of sexual abuse, but acquitted them of the act of sexual assault. The criminal code establishes that the crime of sexual abuse consists in accessing the body of another person without consent but without physical violence. Instead, the crime of sexual aggression consists in accessing the body of another person for an explicitly sexual manner, without consent and through violence.

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