Thousands protesters shouted their anger Friday in Spain after the release of “La Meute”, five men who abused an 18-year-old girl, and were able to return home pending their sentencing of prison be reviewed on appeal.
The five men, who had dubbed La Manada – The Pack in Spanish – on their WhatsApp group, were released from prison on Friday, less than two months after being sentenced to nine years each for “sexual abuse”.
The court that had already scandalized Spain on April 26 by dismissing the classification of rape for the facts established – the defendants had filmed themselves forcing the young woman met during the festivities of the San Fermin in Pamplona in July 2016 – authorized their release under judicial supervision for a deposit of 6000 euros each.
Thousands of women and men of all ages gathered Friday night in front of the Ministry of Justice in Madrid, behind a banner proclaiming “it is not an abuse, it is a rape”. Protesters shouted “if we do not kill you, we do not believe you” or “Enough of patriarchal justice!”
“We need a reform of the judicial system and replace judges inherited from another era,” 41-year-old Noelia Garcia told AFP.
“It is not fair that we release them when they are sentenced to nine in prison, and a few days from San Fermin, where they could even return,” said Lucia Rodriguez, 60, a feminist activist since the 70’s.
Aratz Beranoaguirre, a geologist at the University of the Basque Country, said he was “stunned” by the judges’ decision. “We have a sexist education and there are things we do not realize,” he said. We must believe women, support them and be with them right now. ”
At the same time, thousands of people protested in Pamplona, for the second day in a row, and in Seville where the five attackers are from, according to national television TVE. Other events take place in Valencia, Zaragoza, Granada after Thursday’s events in Barcelona, Bilbao, Vitoria and San Sebastian.
The outrage is all the stronger as four of the five convicts are under investigation for sexual abuse of a 21-year-old woman in May 2016, again filmed with a mobile phone.
In its decision released Friday, the court of Navarre explains authorize the release of five Sevillians, aged 27 to 29, after almost two years of pre-trial detention, because the social pressure on them makes “virtually unthinkable” the risk of recurrence.
But one of the three judges expressed a dissenting opinion, pronouncing for their unconditional retention in detention for half of their sentence, that is four and a half years.
The five young men, including a civilian guard and a former serviceman, are awaiting trial on appeal, as the public prosecutor’s office found the sentence too lenient.
Pamplona City Council, a civil party in the case, announced that it would also appeal their release.
An online petition on the exchange.org website against the release of convicts had collected more than 657,000 signatures on Friday night.
The decision of 26 April had provoked a wave of protests throughout Spain, where feminist movements are particularly powerful.
“The government respects the court decisions” but “he was surprised by the decision of bail,” said his spokesman, Isabel Celaa.
She pointed out that the victim “said no,” that the “proven and condemned facts were very serious” and announced that the government would propose a reform of the articles of the Penal Code on sexual assault.
The first step announced by the new government of Pedro Sanchez, who took office at the beginning of the month and composed of 11 women ministers for six men, is a training of magistrates to raise awareness about the issues of violence against women.