5 men jailed for sex attack in Spain

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Madrid, April 26 (IANS) Five men accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old woman during the running of the bulls festival in Spain’s Pamplona were convicted of sexual abuse on Thursday but acquitted of rape, in a case that sparked a national outcry.

The assailants, referred as “the wolf pack”, avoided rape charges despite an existing video of them attacking the victim during Pamplona’s San Fermín festival in July 2016. The subsequent trial was widely criticised as a cross-examination of the woman rather than the men who attacked her, the Guardian reported.

All five were sentenced to nine years in jail. Under Spanish law, the charge of sexual abuse differs from rape in that it does not involve violence or intimidation.

“It’s rape, not abuse” and “I believe you” were the chants shouted by protesters who had gathered outside the court in the northern Navarra region to show their support for the victim and denounce the “light” prison sentence the assailants were handed.

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The five, in their late 20s and originally from Seville, and the victim, from Madrid, were not present when the judgment was read out after the trial.

The men were also ordered to pay the woman $61,000 in compensation.

Videos of the late-night encounter between the men and the young woman showed how the five men had wandered the streets among other drunken revellers before two of them led her into the basement block of flats by the hand.

According to a police report, the so-called wolf pack surrounded the woman in a small alcove, removed her clothes and had unprotected sex.

Some of them filmed the sexual act on their phones. There were seven videos, totalling 96 seconds. One of the men posted messages in a WhatsApp group celebrating what they had done and promising to share the recording.

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The woman was found in a reportedly distraught state on the street outside the scene of the attack. She told the trial she was still having psychological treatment to deal with trauma.

The Navarra regional government announced it would be appealing the sentence applied, claiming it significantly downplayed the crime the assailants had committed.

–IANS

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