From our correspondent
Yolanda Besteiro, president of the Federation of Progressive Women, does not hide her concern and indignation. Recent judgments for rape cases in which the attackers avoided prison have alerted Spanish feminist associations. “The message sent to society is terrible, rape is free”, protests Yolanda Besteiro. In a country reputed to be a pioneer in the fight against sexual assault and sexist violence, these judgments shocked and worried.
In particular that of last May, reported by the press at the end of July. It concerns two municipal police officers from Estepona, near Malaga who avoid prison after having compensated their victim, who was 18 years old at the time of the events, to the tune of €80,000. The judgment, however, recognizes serious facts: these police officers drugged and raped this young girl in 2018, at the family home of the latter. Since dismissed from the police, the two men will have to take a course in sex education.
If initially, the prosecution claimed thirty years in prison and the victim’s lawyer thirty-three years, the case did not even arrive at the trial stage. A “compliance” agreement was reached between all parties for a considerable reduction in the prison sentence: two years. The two ex-police officers will not be able to work in the public sector.
“What is even more outrageous is that the judges have suspended this two-year prison sentence. Making sexual assaults less serious perpetuates the culture of rape. However, there are other legal provisions, says Yolanda Besteiro. Generally speaking, two-year prison sentences can be suspended when the accused has no criminal record, but this is not automatic.
“It must be justified according to the crime”, notes Yolanda Besteiro. One of the three judges was also moved: “There is nothing to say that there is little likelihood that the two accused will not commit similar acts again”, can we read in the statement of the judgment of one of the magistrates in disagreement with the final decision. The latter also points out that the compensation was paid by the parents of the defendants. “I am not sure that this judgment is therefore a deterrent for these two police officers”bid Yolanda Besteiro.
Another case, made public in recent days, was just as shocking. A sixty-year-old, responsible for a farm in the region of Murcia, found guilty of raping a Paraguayan seasonal employee, finally benefited from a reduction in sentence: two years instead of the twelve to fifteen years incurred in the event of aggravated rape . Here again, the same pattern: after the agreement of the prosecution and the defence, the sentence is reduced to two years and the accused is ordered to compensate his victim up to six thousand euros.
With no priors, he escapes prison. “For all offenses beyond five years, the agreement between the parties is not authorized but the prosecution and the prosecution can also agree not to add aggravated sentences and therefore reduce it, while is negotiated “, explains a judicial source, “ whether the penal code actually allows these agreements, these compensations are outrageous in the case of rape”. Yolanda Besteiro, for her part, fears that these two judgments are only “the tip of the iceberg”.
And the victims in all this? In the rape committed by the two police officers, the girl did not want a trial, wanting to avoid reliving the trauma. “It often happens, either they are afraid, or they absolutely want to avoid tellingwhat happened again, they don’t want to be victims a second time, especially if the trial takes place long after the events “Explains Cira Dominguez, judge for ten years at the special court for sexist violence in Albacete, Castile-La Mancha.