Spain's government will analyze how well sexual crimes are defined in the criminal code in response to widespread outrage after five men who gang-raped a teenager at the famous San Fermin bull-running festival in 2016 had their sentences controversially slashed.
Spanish Judge Rules Victim ‘Wasn’t in Pain,’ Dismisses Rape Charges Against Attackers
The announcement was made by government spokesman Iñigo Mendez de Vigo after a court in Navarra ruled that the men accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old woman had only committed 'sexual abuse' because the victim didn't fight back and didn't seem intimidated. As a result, the court concluded, she wasn't raped.
Jose Angel Prenda, Angel Boza Florido, Jesus Escudero Dominguez, Alfonso Jesus Cabezuelo and Antonio Manuel Guerrero Escudero – part of a WhatsApp group calling themselves La Manada (the 'Wolf Pack') – were sentenced to nine years after being cleared of rape charges that would have incurred sentences of more than 20 years.
Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across Spain to show their support for the victim and reject the reduced sentence.
Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez tweeted his outrage: "If what the 'wolfpack' did wasn't group violence against a defenceless woman, then what do we understand by rape?"
An online petition demanding the justices responsible be recused has already garnered almost 900,000 signatures. The judges, meanwhile, insist they ruled in accordance with the law.
Spain Protests As 'Wolf Pack' Rapists Sentence Reduced
Many political figures, including Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, issued calls for legal reforms.
"We must humanize the criminal code and we must humanize the judges," said Carmena, noting she believes the judges failed to understand the victim's situation when they ruled there had been no intimidation.
During a press conference, Colau issued a formal request to legislators to modify the criminal code and "review the case of sexual abuse and the judicial consideration of violence in the crimes of sexual aggression and rape."
Text submitted in the 371-page sentencing reveals the judges were fully aware of the lack of consent and the intimidation experienced by the victim: 'In the last two videos (the victim) is crouching, cornered against the wall by two of the defendants. She screamed revealing pain… The images show the accuser was afraid and subjected to the will of the accused.'
The prosecution has announced they will appeal the sentence in order to pursue convictions for rape.