Anger erupts in Spain as 5 men acquitted of gang-raping teenager

MADRID: Women's groups and legal experts demanded Friday (Nov 1) that Spain's laws be changed after a court in Barcelona cleared five men of raping a 14-year-old girl and jailed them for the lesser charge of sexual abuse, ruling that they did not use violence.

The men, who denied the charges, took turns to have sex with the teenager after a party in Manresa, a town to the north of Barcelona, in October 2016, the court heard.

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A Barcelona court on Thursday ruled out the more serious charge of sexual assault – the legal equivalent of rape in Spain – on the grounds that the girl was in an "unconscious state" from drugs and alcohol, did not fight back and the men were not violent.

The five men were handed between 10 and 12 years in prison. A conviction for sexual assault would have carried jail sentences of between 15 and 20 years.

Two other defendants were also acquitted of their involvement in the attack.

Ada Colau, the mayor of Barcelona, took to social media to express her anger at the verdict, saying it was "outrageous" and the result of a patriarchal judicial system.

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"I'm not a judge and I don't know how many years in prison they deserve, but what I do know is that this is not abuse, it is rape!" she wrote on Twitter.

"The problem is not the verdict, it's the criminal code" which states that intimidation or violence must be proven for a person to be convicted of rape, said Montserrat Comas of the progressive Judges for Democracy association in Catalonia.

Spain's laws must be changed to define rape as all sex without consent, as is the case in most other European nations and as required by the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty on preventing and combating violence against women which Madrid ratified in 2014, she told news radio Cadena Ser.

"The facts are especially horrendous because we are talking about a 14-year-old minor," Comas said.

The case has been likened to the so-called "Wolf Pack" gang rape of a young woman in Pamplona in July 2016 during the northern city's famed bull-running festival which also sparked outrage.

The men, who included a former policeman and a former soldier, had shared videos of the incident in a WhRead More – Source