“La Manada” case in Spain: Who do the judges protect?

With the freedom of the five sex offenders, public opinion questions the handling of the case

“La Manda” case in Spain: Who do the judges protect?

Thousands of people marched in recent days in the main cities of Spain, as a sign of rejection against the decision of the Pamplona court to give conditional freedom to the five abusers of a woman of 18 years, this during the feast of the Sanfermines of 2016. Through the payment of the bail of 6 thousand euros, the members of the so-called "Manada" may await the review of their sentence in freedom.

Leer en español: Caso de La Manda España: ¿A quién protegen los jueces?

This is not the first disgust that causes the case in the public opinion. In April of this year, one of the judges who took the process said that the crime could not be considered as rape, since the assaulted did not show signs of "trauma".

Moreover, despite the fact that the members of La Manada are sentenced, in the first instance, to nine years in prison, the crime that grants them such a sentence is "continued sexual abuse", and not that of rape. The difference between the two crimes is that violent or intimidating mechanisms are not incurred in the first.

Similarly, the same judge of the Court of Navarra, accepted as evidence in the case a report prepared by a private investigator, hired by one of the rapists, instead of WhatsApp messages that suggested more sexual crimes by La Manada.

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Gestures like these were the ones that have turned thousands of feminist activists and collectives to march against the handling of the case. It seems that the judges try to favor the victimizers more than the victim herself. Why?

The first thing worth analyzing is why La Manada was judged under the criterion of continued sexual abuse and not rape. According to the report of the facts presented by the Court of Navarra, in charge of the case, due to the state of the victim at the time of the crime, the aggressors did not have to incur violence to achieve their purpose.

This is perhaps one of the most difficult points of the case, since the Audiencia's position in public opinion caused great indignation. According to the proven facts of the sentence against La Manada: "The complainant" felt an intense burden and unrest, which caused him stupor and made him adopt an attitude of submission and passivity, determining to do what the defendants told him to do [. ..] ".

Basically, the victim understood the position of power of his five aggressors, his superior bulk and strength and what any defensive action would mean. The point is that the typification of the crime of rape is incapable of contemplating conditions similar to those suffered by the victim when she was attacked. The absence of overt violence does not mean that there was no subjection by La Manada

On the other hand, it is normal to find that in cases of sexual violence against women where the words of the victims are ignored by the authorities. Proof of this is how the judges insisted on doubting the state of vulnerability of the complainant because she had a complacent attitude with one of the condemned before the crime was committed.

This, together with the flexibility of the evidence and the release of the accused because it would be "unthinkable" to re-offend, only suggest that the criminal process did not seek to protect the victim but to mitigate the aggressors' actions.


Latin American Post | Iván Parada Hernández
Translated from “Caso de La Manda España: ¿A quién protegen los jueces?”